Experiment #14: “Hanky-Pankies”

Today, we have a dish for you that is somehow as satisfying as it is rubbery, as shiny as it is suggestive, and as square as the head of the man who (we think) inspired it. 

When we set out to “work” on one of these recipes, we usually pore over the Ancient Texts with teeth gritted and loins girded, preparing our senses and our stomachs for a culinary assault straight out of the darkest depths of the 20th century. Imagine our surprise (and relief) when we happen across a recipe that’s dated and strange enough to be worth our reader’s attention (hi, Becca!), yet composed of a seemingly edible and compatible set of ingredients. By jove, might Bobbi Powell’s “Hanky-Pankies” actually be…kind of good?

Hanky-Panky is short for Hankerton Pankration III.
This week’s culinary muse / object lesson in Strong Republican Jaws is Rep. Walter E. Powell (R-OH), who represented Ohio’s 24th and then 8th congressional districts from 1971 to 1975 (the 24th district was eliminated after 1973). He retired after two terms at the ripe old age of 43, telling the New York Times, “I’m really not happy doing what I’m doing.”

*looks directly into camera*

Extreme “still talks about being the high school quarterback” energy.

Powell’s still kicking it, so in deference to his living memory, we will simply say that he seems like a bit of a shit heel. While in Congress, our boy Walt cosponsored bills to make abortion a federal crime and to prevent families from getting food stamps if any member of the household was on strike.
But ol’ Wall-E could also be magnanimous, signing on to a bill that sought to extend Medicare coverage to breast implants. One of the few bills he introduced on his own was for the financial relief of “Fred Mushroom Canneries,” an Ohio company that had been hit hard by a recall when several of their mushroom cans tested positive for botulism.

Bail-outs for negligent poisoners: that’s the American Way. *shreds electric guitar with eagle talons*

At first, we thought Powell’s wife, Bobbi, was trying some low-key poisoning of her own. Bobbi’s contribution to the CCCB, “Hanky-Pankies,” are essentially coagulated canapes seasoned with a comically large amount of oregano and a comically small amount of Worchestersirhampshire sauce, all held together in a concretion of pasteurized processed SimCheese.

We have since seen the light. 

You may be wondering: why are these called “Hanky-Pankies”? Because these guys fuck. We don’t often have the gumption to finish a Clog creation, but we Hanked all of these Panks. You may well find yourself wanting to do the same, though we believe Surgeon General C. Everett Koop would advise against it.

Step 1: Throw a Party (Rye)
in some cultures, oregano is hailed as a vegetable

The crux—cruces, really—of the recipe are the two loaves of “party rye” We traveled to three different grocery stores looking for the alleged “party rye” and finally found it at a Kansas Hy-Vee. If you can’t find it, just cut some regular rye bread into quarters while blasting Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction." 

Eagle-eyed readers will note that there are TWO DIFFERENT SPICES at play here, which we're pretty sure is a Congressional Club first. 

Step 2: Make Most of a Maid-Rite
For Entertainment Purposes Only. Do not brown snake meat. They hate this. 

Bobbi’s only instructions are to “brown, then drain” the meat. You’re going to want to do it up in batches unless you want steamed, frostbite-gray loose meat. We’re not making a Runza here.

Step 3: Season Your Cheesin’
sheen level: Emilio Estevez

Bobbi’s assembled the Atomic Age hors d’oeuvres equivalent of a pound cake here: a pound of beef, a pound of pork, a pound of Velveeta.

It had been a while since we’d purchased Velveeta and we were a little taken aback by how…dry the jigglable cheese brick is. The lactic loaf was the smooth, supple texture of a Pink Pearl™ eraser.

Pink Pearl™: the only choice in Large Pink Erasers. (Please sponsor our blog.) 

Again, the instructions are pretty spare. Bobbi commands you to “add the Velveeta and the seasonings”—garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, oregano.

We tried to get clever and “deglaze” the pan with the Worcestershire, but APPARENTLY a teaspoon of liquid is not enough to transform a fond of dessicated beef bits into a glossy pan sauce.

We feel this is rude. A teaspoon is a rude amount of Worcestershire for two pounds of 80/20 and a brick of quasi-government cheese. Lea & Perrins did not die in a tragic anchovy-thrashing accident so we could not taste their wares.

Fortunately, there’s a back-up spice (the sixth-best Spice Girl). Fortunately, Bobbi Powell believes that the bottom of the food pyramid should be devoted not to grains and cereals but to an Ohio-sized trough of oregano.

we believe the youths would call this "schwag"
We cannot remember another time in our lives in which we had cause to measure out a tablespoon of oregano. But it undeniably gives the proceedings a nostalgic, late-'90s pizzeria quality. 

Step 4: Get the Party Started
 Party rye is in the houuuse toniiiiight.  ♪

At this point, you’ve basically got the “con queso dip” served at every dry New Year’s Eve party in the Midwest. You could stop here and have a pretty palatable time. Hell, you could even go crazy and throw in a can of Rotel just to show Martha from the Regina Guild that she’s not the only one who can contribute to the parish cookbook.

But this is really more of a spread than a dip. Going easy on the Worcestershire was by design: Bobbi doesn’t want any moisture compromising the structural integrity of this dish. You could stand a spoon up in this paste. It could double as drywall mud in a pinch.

Put down the tortilla chips and pick up those adorable slices of dollhouse bread. This shit was made for a shingle.

Eat your heart out, Alison Roman.

We made these while listening to the impeachment hearings (#synergies). 
Once we'd assembled the toasts, we were all ready to chow down—until we read the part of the recipe where Bobbi insists that we "freeze" them. 

Step 5: Confuse Your Opponent

For inscrutable reasons, Bobbi wants you to freeze these before you broil them. We tried it both ways, and freezing really does make a difference. Specifically, it ensures that by the time the tops of the pankies brown under the broiler, the centers are still as cold as Walter's heart. 

They do look beautiful, though: 

These party toasts are interested in "partnering" with you on Instagram. 
Frigid Republican centers aside, these were by far the best recipe we've made from the Clog so far. They tasted a little like a cheeseburger pizza, insofar as cheeseburger pizzas also have cheese and meat and oregano. And the rye added a soupçon of "zip." 

Sure, if we made these again, we'd triple down on the Worcestershire and add some red pepper flakes.

But even bad hanky-panky is still...you get the idea. 

By Mrs. Walter E. “Bobbi” Powell
Adapted from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book

1 lb ground beef
1 lb pork sausage
1 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 loaves party rye bread
2 cans Hamm’s

Brown ground beef and sausage, drain. Add Velveeta and seasonings. Stir until well mixed. Spread on rye bread. Freeze. When ready to eat, broil for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with Hamm’s. Makes 24 servings. Suitable for freezing.


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