Please understand, I’m not about to claim that the recipe for hog maw originated in my family. It didn’t.
But my family, going back six or eight generations, has eaten more than its share of hog maw over the years.
And we’ve made more than our share of it, too.
So if you come from a family where hog maw — I’ve also heard it called “Pennsylvania Dutch goose” — is regular fare on the dinner table you probably already have a hog maw recipe. It might not be very different from our family recipe. How many ways are there to make hog maw anyway? There are only about a half-dozen ingredients.
But if you have never eaten hog maw, and might like to give it a try, this recipe will take you in the right direction.
First, an admission: My father would never, under any circumstances, eat hog maw. My grandmother made it quite often down on the farm, but my dad never ate it. Grossed him out just thinking of it.
And to be honest, I don’t care much for the pig stomach part of the hog maw myself. I like the contents of the hog maw, but not the casing that holds it all together. At the end of this column, I’ll explain how I’ve gotten around that.
However, other members of my family — my mother, for example — loved everything about hog maw. No substitutions required. She made it three or four times a year, at least. As I said, my Dad wouldn’t eat it, but she made it for the rest of us anyway.
Hog maw is a German derivation, featuring the stomach of a pig as a cooking vessel, much like pig intestines are used as the vessel for sausage links.
Pennsylvania Dutch and Pennsylvania German folks brought it to York County from the old country. But other cultures — Chinese, Portuguese and Mexican, for example — have their own versions.
Hog maw is the lining of the pig’s stomach, always removed and cleaned on butchering day on the farm. Or, it can be bought at the butcher shop or neighborhood grocery store.
The ingredients (serves six to eight people):
- 1 large pig’s stomach (hog maw)
- 1½ pounds loose pork sausage
- 6 or 8 medium potatoes, or 4 baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 medium onions, chopped fine
- 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
And though we don’t use it in our family, I’ve known many people to include cabbage in their hog maw. If that strikes your fancy, then include 1 medium head of cabbage to the ingredient list. Separate leaves, rinse and shred.
That’s it, Fort Pitt.
Wash pig’s stomach well, and soak in salt water for a few hours. Mix together the sausage, potatoes, onions, parsley, salt, pepper and cabbage (if you like). Drain and fill stomach with the mixture. Pack it in until full, then sew together the opening with cooking twine or skewers or whatever you use in your kitchen.
Place stuffed stomach in a large roasting pan, add some water (an inch or so) to the bottom of the pan, and bake the hog maw for about three hours at 350 degrees. The last half-hour or so, remove the lid from the baking pan so the hog maw browns well and becomes crispy.
I’ve known some people to allow the hog maw to cool in the refrigerator, and then slice it down into half-inch slices and place it between two slices of bread for a tasty sandwich as the next day’s lunch.
OK, I promised an alternative to using an actual pig’s stomach, while still enjoying the aroma, flavors and taste of the ingredients of hog maw. In fact, this is how it’s been done in my immediate family going back a couple of generations because none of us really enjoys the taste of the baked pig’s stomach.
So instead of using a pig’s stomach, get a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Carefully line the inside of a crock pot with the foil and pour into the bottom a small amount of melted butter (just enough to cover the entire bottom).
Then add all the ingredients, as above. Add a few tablespoons of water to encourage steaming. Carefully fold over the top of the foil and place the crock pot lid on the crock pot. Slow cook the contents for about five or six hours on low.
When done, lift the entire package of foil out of the crock pot as though it was a sack of flour and, while holding the package over a large bowl (just in case it tears), poke just enough small holes in the bottom with a fork to allow any liquid or grease to drain out.
When fully drained, enjoy.
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