Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Mock Tournedos #FoodnFlixClub

February's Food n Flix Club movie is Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the award winning Stanley Kramer classic from 1967.   The cast for this movie is incredible, including movie icons Katherine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy, Beah Richards and Isabel Sanford.

This FoodnFlix round up is hosted by CulturEatz and you can read her announcement here.

The plot itself takes on the confrontational subject of racism and societal disapproval of interracial marriage at a time when this was a hot button issue. To put it into the context of its time, Loving vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court Case ending laws outlawing interracial marriage, was decided while this movie was in post production, and it predated by several months the landmark Star Trek episode featuring the first interacial kiss on TV (deemed so controversial, it had to occur in the context of Kirk and Uhura being controlled against their will by a powerful entity).

I hadn't seen Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in decades in spite of being a huge fan of old movies, and being incapable of passing up Katherine Hepburn or Sidney Poitier whenever I come across them, I was looking forward to having an excuse for a rewatch. I was interested and a little nervous about how badly it might have aged.

Make no mistake - it is a product of its era in several ways, but it's not awful, either.  I'm not going to get into a huge critique, just a few small observations.  The plot concerns a young adult woman (Joey Drayton) bringing a man she plans to marry home to meet her parents, who are social conscious liberals and who, she's positive, will have no issues at all (in fact she appears to be unaware of why anyone might, so I can only conclude that in the 60s, Joey was attending boarding school on Mars).

She surprises her mother and tells her she's in love and wants to marry - and mother is delighted! And then her future son-in-law walks in and she is shocked and distressed to discover he's African American. And the rest of the movie has to do with the various people in the household, including Poitier and his character's parents, all struggling to come to grips with this shocking situation without destroying two families.  This happens through a series of well-composed conversations that manage to be a round up of the various perspectives brought to  this issue by people of good will.

All of which is both interesting, very well written and acted, and a  little cringe-worthy (I am old enough not to also be deeply puzzled at why they're acting like it's such a huge deal.)

And make no mistake - this is not a bunch of people who are proudly racist - they're liberal and in at least an abstract sense, they do not believe that white people are better-than people of color. They're 'just concerned' at how everyone else might react when racism goes from being an academic subject and a cause solved by a fundraiser to being a matter of importance to their own daughter and future children. 

What really got me though, is that almost everyone is all very distressed by this bombshell Joey dropped on them unexpectedly.  The parents are shocked and concerned about what the neighbors will say, what sort of difficult life this will cause for them both and their future children.

But none of them seem shocked or bothered by the fact that the couple met TEN DAYS AGO while on vacation and that she's barely into her 20s and he's well into his thirties.  Apparently, none of that is potentially problematic at all!

Equally eyebrow raising is that the two fathers and the prospective groom have conversations about their 'approval' - and if Poitier doesn't get their blessing, he's going to dump her and leave.

Guess who wasn't a part of that discussion? Joey!  She doesn't even find out that's a possible complication until she's upstairs grabbing her suitcase to head off to Europe with her soon-to-be husband.

The mothers also seem to occupy a secondary place.

While they can and do appeal to their husbands from an emotional perspective to remember what it was like to be young and in love, it seems to be a given that the practical details of 'can this marriage work?' belong with the menfolk.

Maybe that's to be expected, since an ongoing motif is that everyone forgets to clue Tilly into how many people will be at the table, causing her to scramble all day to prepare them a special meal.

All of which is to remember that the era's feminist movement was not on the public radar until the 70s.

The Sixties, man!

With that, let's turn to food in this movie. In spite of its title, there's not as much as you might think! This was what I noticed:

  • Tilly makes some coffee and sandwiches for the new arrivals - looks like egg salad or tuna.
  • Joey asks Tilly for a special dinner, to include celery soup, tournedos, and her 'best pie'.
  • Tilly orders steak from the butcher. Later, she'll need to order more when more guests are added.
  • Tilly is seen preparing peas and lettuce.
  • a bar in the living room with decanters (likely the usual range of expected liquors in the cocktail-heavy 60s). 
  • Mel's Drive-In where Spencer Tracy wants ice cream he had once but can't recall. The carhop reels off the list of what they carry: "Daiquiri ice, honeycomb candy, cocoa coconut, Jomoca Almond Fudge, Mocha Jamoca, PB&J, banana mint? Boysenberry sherbet..." and he remembers - yes! He wants 'Oregon Boozenberry'.
  • The parents go out for cocktails and have what looks like an Old Fashioned and a Martini.
  • At home, arriving guests are offered drinks - Scotch and Soda, Bourbon, Sherry for the ladies.

And after all that, the movie ends before they get to the dinner table!

As I was casting about for inspiration, I looked up what 'tournedos' are.  They're filet mignon wrapped in bacon. Oh, those!  I priced filet mignon. I thought about the huge size of that bag of steak Tilly had, and gasped.  We are not wealthy enough for that dish.

And then I tripped over mention of MOCK Tournedos, which are bacon-wrapped ground beef patties - and realized I grew up on this stuff, although I have no idea what we called them. And I grew up in the 60s, so this is authentic.

Therefore, I'm pretending I didn't hear Tilly order steak, and declare that THIS is what a typical family having a special company's coming dinner would have made in 1967.  I know mine would have.

Mock Tournedos
Serves 4

1 pkg sliced button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 Tblsp olive oil

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 Tblsp Worchestershire
2 Tblsp brown mustard
1 egg
salt and pepper

4 slices bacon

1 cup chicken or beef broth
2 Tblsp mustard
1 tsp rosemary
1/3 cup tomato sauce or V-8 juice

Saute chopped mushrooms in a large saute pan with olive oil until soft and cooked through.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, sauteed mushrooms, Worchestershire, mushrooms, seasonings and egg, working with hands to mix together. (make sure everything is combined well, but don't overwork or your patties will be tough.) 

Divide meat mixture in quarters, and shape each quarter into a patty about 1" thick.  Wrap a piece of raw bacon around each patty, securing on two sides with wooden toothpicks.

Pan-fry the tournedos in the same pan used to saute the mushrooms, about 5 minutes on each side.  If need be, add a little olive oil to the pan, but remember the fat from the bacon will soon be liquefying, too.

Once the tournedos are cooked as desired, remove them to a plate and let them sit a few minutes while preparing a sauce:

Combine broth, mustard, rosemary and tomato sauce (or V-8, which I used because I was drinking some at the time) in the pan used to cook the tournedos.  Scrape the pan and simmer for a few minutes (tasting to determine if it needs any additional seasoning) to let it thicken slightly.

I served this with steamed mixed vegetables and roasted potatoes, adding the sauce to the potatoes and meat.

We really enjoyed these and will be making them again, whether it's for company or not!

Now I'm off to go read CulturEatz round up of dishes inspired by Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - I can't wait to see how others tackled this movie theme!  You can join me here!


  1. Ha great reaction to the cost today of those steaks lol. Wow you dug deeper into the history. I had no idea about the Loving vs. Virginia and vaguely now remember the Star Trek interracial kiss. Great mock tournedos for sure and thanks for participating!

  2. I love this. We had this dish all the time growing up. Mom just called them Mock Steaks and we kids called them "carrot steaks" b/c her recipe had shredded carrots as a filler. We thought they were a great delicacy. Great discussion of the movie, too, Lynda!

  3. Hi Lynda I just loved that movie and still cry whenever I watch it. Thanks also for the recipe and linking up with us at #BloggersPitStop

  4. Just delicious, this recipe looks really good and we will love it! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday. Have a great week and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  5. WOW. I love old recipes and this one looks like a winner. SO much fun!

  6. Looks yummy! Thanks for the recipe. The movie club sounds fun! Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Hope to see ya next week!

  7. I really wish I had participated this month...I've actually never seen this movie. This recipe sounds delicious!

  8. The food looks great, I didn't know what a tournedos was either!
    Your review of the film is so interesting, I'm aware of it, have seen it years ago but not for a long time. I do remember going to see a stage version and the 'meh, ok' more recent flipped on it's head film version. I feel concern that they only met 10 days ago too - whaaat? I may rewatch too just to see what you mean about the mum's roles. I recently rewatched the original Freaky Friday which I enjoyed as a kid only to be horrified at the awful sexism. Time's they are a changing!