Recipe for Lean Times

Image: Wikimedia Commons

 What is wolf stew?

“It’s a hamburger dish we ate when money was tight. We had it about once a week when I was a kid, in the 1940s. Beef was a treat during the war. We had more pork, because we lived on a farm and we had pigs, but we didn’t have beef too often. Wolf stew could feed a whole family with a few potatoes and one pound of hamburger. My grandmother made it. Everyone in the family called it wolf stew. When I asked my dad why we called it that, he told me that during the Depression they were very poor, there was no money, no food, and they heard a noise at the door. It was a wolf. So they shot the wolf and they had wolf stew. I believed him. I was a young kid. We all believed it. Everything was rationed during the war; you couldn’t get meat, so we believed it was wolf. We thought that where they stored the meat, the pork, they just went there and got wolf. When I got married in the 1950s, I started making it for my kids and they called it wolf stew. We had it about once a week. It’s always been one of my favorite dinners.”

How do you make it?

“You just get three or four onions, cut them up, and fry them in a little oil in a large pan on medium heat until they’re golden. Then add a pound of hamburger into the pan, all crumbled up. Cook the meat thoroughly while stirring. After the meat is cooked through, stir in two cups of water, and add salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring on medium heat until it’s all well blended and you have a nice gravy. Then mix about a tablespoon of flour in a half cup of water and add it to the stew to thicken it. Let it simmer about ten minutes or until it’s as thick as you like it. Serve it with mashed potatoes.”

— Joan Geraci, age 80, Bellmawr, New Jersey


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