Cooking with writers

Food and authors rank pretty high on the list of things that I like to know more about, so when I ran across The Great New American Writers' Cookbook at the library the other day it was like discovering that someone had figured out how to make wine out of cocoa beans - two vices in one.

I'll admit I haven't heard of a good number of the authors who contributed, and it seemed too obvious that F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway are represented by recipes for drinks. But there was one recipe in the book that made up for any disappointment I'd felt - James Purdy's Baked Chicken and Sausage.

James Purdy is perhaps my favorite author and I never miss a chance to spread the word about this almost unknown American treasure. His works run across many genres: poetry, Southern Gothic, literary fiction, short stories, plays and somethings that don't fit under any label. That contributes to him never having been published by one of the houses with deep pockets. Then there are his characters, usually the type of people who live a little outside the edges of "polite society". They are flawed, but not in the classic flawed hero way. Their flaws are seldom redeemed. I like that.

As this is my "Foodie Friday" post, I'll include Mr. Purdy's recipe. I don't think I'd ever make it myself - there's way too much meat for my tastes. At 84 years old, I'm hoping he's not eating it too often, either.

James Purdy's Baked Chicken and Sausage
Four large chicken breasts split
8 Italian sweet sauces
8 strips of slab bacon
4 garlic cloves
3 small white onions
5 tablespoons sweet butter
Chopped fresh parsley

Brown chicken breasts and sweet sausages in separate skillets in garlic and sweet butter. Place chicken breasts and Italian sausages then in a very large iron pot. Cover with the bacon slices. Cut up garlic cloves and white onions and add them to the chicken and sausages. Cook in very slow oven at least 2 hours, turning occasionally to allow the chicken and sausage to cook evenly. Scatter fresh parsley before serving. Serve with Virginia Spoon Bread and green salad.

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