Preparing and serving food for guests is a pleasure, yet I find myself questioning whether it’ll be what they will like eating. For that reason, I have found “stacks” — such as haystacks, hobo delight, breakfast haystacks or even expanded salad bars — to be one of my favorite ways to serve.
Stacks do involve using more dishes, but the trade-off of more happy guests is worth it. With a stack me, each person has the liberty to choose what they want to eat. No one needs to feel bad if they choose to not add onions or kidney beans on their hot taco salad stacks and neither does the hostess need to feel offended in any way if several of her toppings are less than popular.
Stacks are especially nice for those with food allergies because the offensive food can easily be avoided. The same is true for vegetarians; they can simply omit the meat and proceed with whatever layers they choose.
Haystacks are the most popular stack in our church community here in Flat Rock. My grandma is known for her liking of haystacks and for her cooking tasty, old-fashioned food. The cheese sauce on her stacks is always the best, creamy and loaded with cheese.
A few years ago, my husband, Daniel, and I decided to serve haystacks when it was our turn to serve lunch after church services at the schoolhouse. Several people told me that I wouldn’t need a huge amount of any one item since there are so many different toppings with a haystack. Well, I can tell you of one young lady who was getting rather nervous as the 120 people at church began to file through, filling their plates to the brim.
Everyone started out with only a small stack but, unfortunately, the stacks tend to grow incredibly fast and usually people end up with more than they had planned on getting. And this was no exception. Bowls and kettles were being emptied as the haystacks grew higher on people’s plates. I dashed to our house next door and grabbed some more onions and hard-boiled eggs. Until all was said and done, quite a few of the bowls were scraped out. I felt badly for anyone who might have wanted to get a second stack but couldn’t. But Daniel assured me, in his usual calm manner, that he didn’t think anyone had to go home hungry. One thing is certain: From that day forward, I decided to always make more than you’d think would be needed when serving stack-style.
Hobo delight is similar to haystacks, only a bit more basic. The rice, beans and meat mixture is all combined into one dish. While we serve cheese sauce with haystacks, we use a homemade sweet and sour sauce with hobo delight. On my visit to my uncle’s farm several weeks ago, Hobo Delight was served for supper. It was both tasty and satisfying, especially after a day of traveling.
Be sure to check out next week’s article for more information and recipes for additional Amish stacks — horseshoe special, cowboy stew and “straw hats.” I’m eager to share several more of our favorites with you.
This week I’ll share the recipe for Hobo Delight Stacks with you.
HOBO DELIGHT STACKS
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1½ cups pizza sauce
1½ cups water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
¼ cup brown or white rice
1 cup chili beans, drained
Brown and drain beef, adding remaining ingredients. Mix and pour into a 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. When out of the oven, set aside and then layer the following items onto your plate in whatever amount you desire.
The meat mixture from the recipe above
Grated cheese of your choice
Ranch or sweet and sour dressing
As with other stack recipes, I have not listed precise amounts because it depends on how many you are serving and how much of any given item you want, so prepare amounts accordingly.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories may write to Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish, go to www.amish365.com.