Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay cookbook (recipes of the stars!) and you are invited to tag along. (I have listed all the recipes I have tested on this dedicated page. Check back often.) Today, we will be testing a recipe from an actress whose career survived the fall of nickelodeons, the coming of sound and a pair of World Wars.
When you look over the career of Bebe Daniels, you are also observing an intriguing cross-section of the American film industry in its early years. One of Daniels’ earliest roles was as the very first onscreen Dorothy Gale in a 1910 version of The Wizard of Oz. When feature films took over the industry, a lot of popular nickelodeon idols found themselves out in the cold but Daniels signed on as Harold Lloyd’s regular leading lady while still a teenager.
A seasoned industry veteran by the age of eighteen, Daniels made the jump from comedy to drama as a baby vamp in Cecil B. DeMille’s lavish productions. (Gloria Swanson made a similar jump, from comedy to DeMille leading lady, around the same time.) Vamp parts have always had a way of trapping and typecasting actresses but Daniels proved to be agile as ever and spent the 1920s in a series of comedies that took popular stories and reversed the genders of the leads. Zorro, the Sheik, and Brewster of Brewster’s Millions, Daniels played them all.
When sound came to Hollywood, Daniels took her career into her own hands and used her powerful singing pipes to deliver a smash hit with Rio Rita. It’s funny how people fixate on silent film actresses “ruined by sound” but ignore Daniels and her career-saving business savvy.
There’s more to the story of Bebe Daniels, how she moved to England and became a beloved radio star, how she conquered television, how she starred in an adaptation of her television show forty-five years after being swept to Oz… but it’s time to talk about food. Daniels had acting chops and a head for business but how will her cookery skills fare? That’s what we are going to find out!
Now I have a terrible confession: I did not “French” the chops. That is, I did not cut away the meat and fat from the bone. I also didn’t remove the bone because I am a little savage and gnawing is fun. Also, I strongly believe that bone-in meat is much tastier than boneless and that boneless “wings” are an abomination. (It’s a glorified chicken nugget, you marketing villains! If you don’t like wings, don’t eat them but stop pretending that something is a wing when it isn’t. I hate mayonnaise but I don’t go around calling mustard “yellow mayonnaise” now do I?)
I also did not dress the chop with bacon because the recipe already calls for bacon on top and I happen to like the flavor of lamb. Anyway, that step is optional so I feel no guilt.
I had Panko crumbs on hand for another recipe so I used those instead of crumbling crackers. Can you tell that I wasn’t much of a stickler while cooking this recipe?
I baked the chop in a 450-degree oven because I wanted crispy, crunchy bacon and breading. After twenty minutes, this is what emerged. Isn’t it a looker?
Score: 5 out of 5. I feel my arteries hardening as I type but we all knew the risks going into this thing. This is insanely bad for you but it is also delicious. All that salt and fat and more salt and bacon… Whoa! The breading didn’t stay crisp under the bacon fat (though the Panko crumbs kept it from being entirely soggy) but I was distracted by all the butter. Mmm!
Yeah, this recipe is basically cheating (bacon and loads of butter?) but what else could we expect from Bebe Daniels, undisputed mistress of having her cake and eating it too? We’re talking about a woman who turned a jail sentence for speeding into a publicity coup and so it should come as no surprise that she would charm our taste buds with the two most irresistible substances on the planet.
I think if I made this again, I would probably not bread the bacon side. I also recommend having Tums at the ready as heartburn is a feature, not a bug. All in all, though, I was extremely pleased by this sinful recipe.