Fans of Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas no longer need to wonder how Aunt Pearl, Bertha Bumiller, waitress Inita Goodwin, Petey Fisk, and the other residents of Tuna, Texas, keep their figures. Aunt Pearl’s Cookbook: A Man’s Cooking (Pearl Productions, $14.95), a new book by Tuna co-creator Joe Sears, will make you crave the kind of food you’ve been warned about. Aunt Pearl, who has been known to burst into Ethel Merman show tunes while preparing family meals, makes no apologies for the extra calories in her recipes. Nor is Tuna cooking short on cholesterol, as this uninhibited chicken recipe amply demonstrates. But who cares? This is cooking for a Sunday dinner—not for a diet.
Aunt Pearl writes: “Phoebe Berkhalter and her husband, Farley, are little people. Walking into their house, with all their little furniture that Farley makes out in his workshop, is like a bad carnival ride. The little TV on the little handmade TV stand makes you feel like you’re in Alice in Wonderland. I couldn’t sit in the little chairs they have, so Phoebe served me this dish out on the front porch, where I felt less dizzy. She makes a little of it for Farley every Friday night. Here is the recipe in Phoebe’s own words.”
Phoebe’s Chicken Climax
2 chicken breasts
1 glop of milk
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter
Cheap white wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Paper sack (for shaking up chicken)
1 stool (for seeing over the stove)
Kill one chicken and rip out its breast. Beat one egg lightly with a glop of milk. Add salt and pepper to mixture, and set aside. Wash off them breasts, throw ‘em in a sack with flour, and I throw in four handfuls of crushed-up cornflakes. (That’s probably one handful for big people.) Shake ‘em up good in the sack, but close it first.
Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a medium skillet over a medium flame until a water drop thrown in sizzles right off. Take them breasts out of the sack, dip ‘em in the egg mixture, and drop ‘em in the skillet. Brown both sides. Remove breasts from skillet, pour off the oil, wipe out the pan, turn burner down real low, add about 3 tablespoons of butter to skillet, and put breasts back in. Pour some cheap white wine over them breasts; season with lots of oregano and sweet basil.
Put a lid on the skillet, then leave it simmering for 15 minutes or so while you read the funny papers. Spoon in cream of mushroom soup on top of them breasts, add some more oregano and basil, and replace the lid. Continue simmering for another 20 minutes. Eat them breasts with the mushroom gook in the pan spread over them.
Recipe from Aunt Pearl’s Cookbook: A Man’s Cooking, by Joe Sears. Copyright 1991 by Pearl Productions.