I don’t think there is any food that is more pleasantly named than pigs in a blanket. You envision cute little piglets all cozied up and cooing in a nice warm comforter. You can almost hear their squeaks of delight (I suppose that would be their ‘oinks’ of delight). Of course that vision isn’t quite as endearing when you realize that you are actually eating pigs that have been haphazardly prepared and cozily wrapped in dough. There’s kind of a misleading disconnect between this fun image of piggies resting in comfort and the horrific thought of hogs ground up and encased in sausage casings wrapped in hot dough for your enjoyment. So goes the dilemma of a modern carnivore.
There’s no direct history on where the name comes from. Some say it comes from a 1947 cookbook, others say it comes from a roadside diner on historic Route 66. But the concept of pigs in a blanket have been around for a few hundred years. As soon as man started making sausages, he started wrapping them in dough so they could easily travel (not to mention the tastiness of the combo). Its modern name seems to have been created to make them more appetizing to little kids who would naturally be intrigued by the thought of eating pigs in blankets. Silly kids. They’d probably be eat anything if we gave it a cute name – like Halibut in Sweaters or Liver in Jorts (patent pending). At some point they made it on to the hors d’oeuvre scene and that’s when they kind of became a fixture of the cocktail party. Then as America’s love affair with the hot dog started to fade, pigs in a blanket kind of became a bit gauche and they became less popular on the party circuit. Still, there are few people who still eat meat that don’t enjoy the occasional cozied up pig in a blanket.
I made these on my quest back on National Croissant Day. That seemed appropriate because the modern American version of pigs in a blanket is made from hot dogs wrapped in Pillsbury crescent roll dough. They say it’s different in other parts of the world. The UK favors sausages wrapped in bacon and Mexico has hot dogs wrapped in tortillas. But in America, it is the hot dog wrapped in the ready-made dough from a can.
We were having some old friends drop by for a lunch visit this afternoon, so I wasn’t really thinking about pigs in a blanket as I made my way to Clements Market to pick up some sandwiches for us. When I was there, it suddenly dawned on me that I should get hot dogs and dough too so I could serve them as an appetizer/side dish. That made sense because not only would it provide more food, it would also be a celebration that we could share. It’s funny that after 266 days of doing this, making something for the quest isn’t my first thought when preparing food, but sometimes I am thinking about other things. Nonetheless I grabbed a package of Nathan’s Hot Dogs and some Pillsbury Butter Flake Crescent Dough. When I got home, I popped open the can of dough and rolled it out. I cut the triangles of dough in the can in half and then I cut each hot dog into half as well. I wrapped each hot dog up in an individual piece of dough and then placed it on a sheet pan. When they were all rolled up, I brushed them with a quick egg wash and they went into the oven for about 14 minutes. They came out looking pretty good.
Our friends Matt and Jenni and their son Charlie (daughter Grace was swinging a hammer in Mississippi) were in town for some family matters and Lola had arranged for them to swing by for a visit. It’s probably been a year or more since we last saw them. If you are following the tale of Dan and Lola, Jenni is probably the key link to our eventual meeting and subsequent life together. I was living in New Hampshire at the time and unbeknownst to me, a young Lola was moving to the same area from little Rhode Island. Lola was moving up to NH somewhat blindly (and courageously) and did not know anyone in the area. Jenni who is a Newport native (she used to work at Christy’s) was actually a childhood friend of one of Lola’s cousins and she was living in Portsmouth, NH at the same time with her husband Matt. I think Lola’s mom got word to Jenni that Lola was moving up to that area and kind of hoped she would keep an eye out for her. Knowing Jenni as we do now, you know that if anyone tasked her with such a request, she would take it to heart and of course she did. She got Lola a job at a little Mexican restaurant where Jenni and Matt were both working, and coincidentally, so was I. Jenni and Matt looked out for Lola in those early days and made sure she was safe, happy and doing ok. It was the type of kindness that keeps the world going. Just making sure the people around you are ok, and Matt and Jenni gave Lola that kind of love, just when she needed it. The relationship would later forge into a genuine friendship and there are few people who can make you laugh more that Matt and Jenni. And if you really want to smile, put Lola and Jenni on the dance floor together with some Salt n’ Peppa on the turntable. We always thank the universe for putting them in our lives. Had Jenni not brought Lola into that Mexican restaurant, we very likely would have never met. That’s why we owe our lives together to them.
When they came today and after we got the initial greetings and catching up out of the way, we sat down to our feast which was really chips, sandwiches and the pigs in a blanket. For whatever reason, the pigs in a blanket were the big hit. They came out perfectly and the “blanket” was golden brown without any burning on the bottom which is always the worry. The hot dog was actually great too. I don’t usually go for the Nathan’s dogs – I opt for Saugy Doggies (a RI tradition) or Hummel Brothers (a New Haven tradition). But obviously the folks at Nathan’s know a thing or two about hot dogs. They just had good flavor and they were the perfect pairing for the dough which was nice and buttery. The tray made its way around the table a couple of times and the reviews were positive. Sometimes you just get that craving for a hot dog and a pig in a blanket is the perfect fix for that. Lola even had one later in the day after everyone had left because she thought they tasted so good.
It’s always fun seeing old friends again especially ones that you feel comfortable with within minutes of seeing them. We spent most of the afternoon catching up and just having a good time. We even scanned the beach for sea glass and found some pretty choice pieces out there too. We hope we get to see more of Matt and Jenni this summer when they come back down to the island with more regularity. They are good people who bring smiles and joy whenever we see them. We can spend more time combing the beach, soaking in the sun, hearing about old times and just enjoying the good people in our life. And naturally, we’ll be serving pigs in a blanket too.
Next up: National Zucchini Bread Day