This recipe has been in my family for generatiions, back to the early 1900's that we know of. It is the ultimate comfort food, perhaps because I have been eating it all my life. The recipe is quoted from Mother's cookbook, "Dear Sally", which is another story.
An interesting side note is that Craig Claiborne, who was Mother's next door neighbor in Sunflower, Mississippi growing up, reportedly published the recipe years later in the New York Times, crediting his Mother as the source. This infuriated the residents of Sunflower, who knew better. I can't prove that allegation, but it remains a favorite anecdote.
From "Dear Sally", by Mimi Neal
This recipe has been in my family so long that the fact that I like it so well may have something to do with my racial urge. We don’t know who originated it, but when you look over the list of ingredients you know it was somebody who attempted all the leftovers in the pot one night.
My mother says the spaghetti is only as good as the cheese you use, and it must be sharp enough to cut your pocketbook. She also says you have to use the full three tablespoons of sugar, even if it kills you, or she and all her family will not be responsible for the outcome.
First you boil in water containing some onion and salt and celery leaves:
1 big, fat hen
Chop it into big-bite sized pieces. Then you chop:
3 large green bell peppers
3 large onions
Several buttons of garlic
Sauté the peppers and onions first in:
Chicken fat or 1 stick butter
Then add the garlic, crushed or chopped, and:
1 large can mushrooms, drained (Save the mushroom liquor.)
Don’t let any of this brown, just cook it slowly in the fat until it is done, which takes longer than
you would think.
1 can tomatoes
2 cans heavy tomato paste
1 can Le Sueur peas (medium)
Dump in all the liquids from the canned things, and the mushroom liquor. You can also add some of the broth from the chicken you cooked, but it is easy to get too much and safer to wait and use the chicken broth to thin it with, if necessary.
Cook all this slowly in a big, heavy, covered pot (which is what you should have started it in) about 30 minutes. Then add:
The chopped chicken
1 pound sharp cheese, chopped
From now on you have to stand over the pot, stirring as the cheese melts slowly, or it will stick to the bottom.
If you didn’t use very old, sharp cheese, throw everything out and start over because the cheese will have balled up into rubber and spoiled everything.
When the cheese has melted, add:
½ medium bottle Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. mustard
At least 3 tbs. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste. Stir and taste. Then add:
1 pound thin spaghetti, cooked until barely tender and drained in cold water
This concoction needs to sit a while, to blend the flavors, and is better the second day. You will find that the longer it sits, the more the spaghetti will swell, and the more chicken broth you need to add to make it just the right consistency.
You can serve it with French bread, salad, pickles, potato chips, rolls, or nothing but toast.
Some people like it with Parmesan cheese."
This is the batch I made yesterday: