A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 20, 2006
Prairie Fire (hot hors d’oeuvre)

"Prairie Fire” is the name of the hot hors d’oeuvre that was served by Helen Corbitt, of Neiman-Marcus fame, in the 1950s.


Helen Corbitt’s Cookbook
by Helen Corbitt
Boston: Houghton Mifflin
1957
Pg. 14:
I never saw a place where everyone likes hot hors d’oeuvre as well as they do in Texas. They should be hot, and I mean hot. And you should not try to serve them unless you arrange for them to be passed many times, either by yourself or your jewel from your kitchen, or else kept hot in a chafing dish.
(...)
PRAIRIE FIRE
1 quart red beans, cooked and put through a sieve
1/2 pound butter
1/2 pound grated Provolone cheese
4 jalapenos (pickled hot peppers), chopped very fine
1 teaspoon jalapenos juice
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, chopped very fine

Mix and heat over hot water until cheese is melted. Serve hot from chafing dish with fried tortillas or potato chips.

29 December 1964, Chicago Daily Defender, pg. 18:
PRAIRIE FIRE
4 cups (1 quart) well-cooked Idaho Red or Pinto beans, sieved or mashed smooth
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter
1/2 pound, about grated or thin-sliced Provolone (preferable) OR Cheddar Cheese
4 jalapenos (pickled green Chile peppers), minced
1 tablespoon jalapenos liquid
1-4 cup minced onion
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
Mix and heat over hot water, stirring constantly until cheese and butter are melted, and mixture is hot. If it has to wait and becomes a bit thicker than is desirable for dripping, add a little hot water or any leftover bean liquid.

Serve in chafing dish or on heating unit of some kind. Garnish top with minced sweet onion or snippets of broiled bacon.

NOTE: if you cannot find the true Mexican “jalapenos”, green in color, there are “prepared or pickled chile peppers” which are smaller, yellowish in color, and a fair substitute.

Size of the jalapenos varies from about 1 and 1/2 inches to a bit more than 2 inches. Our recipe’s “Four” are the small ones, so best cut the number if the pack runs larger or if you are worried about the effect!

It’s easier to add than to subtract and this dip is on the fiery side.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, October 20, 2006 • Permalink