Good Housekeeping wangled some recipes out of celebrities back in 1958, and put them (the recipes, not the celebrities) in a book called Who’s Who Cooks. I posted Alfred Hitchcock’s rather mundane, decidedly unscary quiche recipe awhile back.
Here we go again, this time with James Cagney. Sadly, this is not a grapefruit recipe. You may recall Cagney’s famous pushing-grapefruit-into-costar’s-face scene in the 1931 movie The Public Enemy. Director William Wellman added the scene because he fantasized about doing this with his wife’s grapefruit when he got angry at breakfast. (I trust that Mrs. Wellman had something hot out of the toaster to brandish threateningly if he got too close to the grapefruit).
Cagney, according to Who’s Who Cooks, liked to eat “most anything good.” That’s enlightening. So do most people. It would have been fun if he’d said something a little less predictable like “I like most anything burned to a crisp.”
The cookbook claimed that he actually made the clam chowder (and the apple pie recipe which follows). I really can’t see it, not if he got like that around a grapefruit. I don’t think it would have been in anyone’s interest to let him near a soup tureen.
JAMES CAGNEY’S “SUPERB NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER”
Drain, reserving liquid: 3 dozen shucked raw soft-shell clams. Snip off necks of clams; cut fine with scissors. Leave soft parts whole. Place clams (ncks and soft parts) with liquid in saucepan.
Add 2 cups cold water. Bring to boil; drain, reserving liquid and clams. In large kettle, saute until golden, 1/4 lb diced salt pork.
Add and cook until tender, 2 medium onions, sliced.
2 Tb flour
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp monosodium glutamate
1 1/2 tsp salt
Pinch dried savory
Pinch dried thyme
Reserved clam liquid
4 medium potatoes, pared and cut into 1/2″ cubes
Bring to boil; cover; simmer over low heat 8 minutes, or till [sic] potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, combine and heat just till [sic] simmering:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups light cream
Stir into potato mixture. Add clams and 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1Tb butter or margarine, and 1Tb snipped parsley. Heat. makes 8 servings.
One final thought: why is Cagney advocating New England clam chowder, when he was born and raised in New York City, in Manhattan in fact – home of Manhattan clam chowder, which has tomatoes in it. At this site, I learned that in 1939 a bill was introduced in the Maine legislature to make it against state law to put tomatoes into clam chowder. I trust that Cagney wasn’t out looking for anymore culinary fights, what with the New England chowder versus him being a Manhattanite, and thus technically on the side of the tomatoes. But he was a tough guy in the movies. So we may never know.