Jack Hatfield sat in the lobby of the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Theater in Pigeon Forge signing copies of his new cookbook “Eatin’ with the Hatfields” and answering questions about his infamous Hatfield family. Invariably, the question arose of how he was related to the bunch to which he would reply, “I am the great-great grandson of the Devil himself.” Hatfield was referring to his ancestor Anderson “Devil Ans” Hatfield.
Last year Hatfield’s grandmother died and he later discovered a treasure trove of as many as 3,000 Hatfield family recipes dating back well before the famous feud with the McCoy family broke out.
“Eatin’ with the Hatfields” includes many southern favorites and a few wild game recipes that were popular on the frontier and in isolated areas such as the mountainous region where the Hatfields made their home. Some of the wild game recipes call for ingredients that may be hard to acquire such as rattlesnake and bear. But the recipes for fried squirrel, bear stew, squirrel soup, deer burgers, and fried rattlesnake give the reader an idea of what it was like to live off the land when a man had to hunt for his food.
Many of the recipes are widely known and much more common to southern tastes, including chicken parmesan, chicken and dumplings, sweet tater casserole, lemon ice box pie, pound cake, sausage gravy and biscuits, pumpkin bread and others.
The collection of recipes includes desserts, gravies, various meat products, vegetables, fudges and fruits, as well as beverages. No, there are no recipes for moonshine. Of course no southern cookbook would be complete without recipes for barbecue and Hatfield provides some wonderful recipes that would sate the heartiest appetite of barbecue aficionados.
The book also provides some ideas on making common household cleansers such as window cleaner using kerosene and water, and homemade soap using ammonia, borax and lard. Other recipes for household products include tick repellent, play dough and hillbilly drain cleaner.
Hatfield wrote “Eatin’ with the Hatfields” in a folksy vernacular providing not only a glimpse into mountain cuisine, but also a humorous look at the southern dialect. The final chapter of the book is a collection of southern words and expressions such as the word “young’uns” which is translated to young ones, and other colorful words commonly heard around the south such as doo-hickey, stoved up, walla go and many other expressions.
The book is interesting and informative, with great recipes that preserve the history and heritage of mountain culture. It would make a great gift for a person that likes to cook and would enable them to make the same dinners served to the feudin’ Hatfields more than a century ago. The book is available at the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Theater and on Amazon.com or at Hatfield’s website www.hatfieldbrand.com.