Pigs in a Blanket, the Undisputed Party Champions

Swiped through your favorite sauce, they’re equal parts retro, nostalgia and comfort.

By Kim Severson

In the waning days of summer, taking the Cooking newsletter out for a spin can feel a bit like speed dating. Who’s filling in for Sam and Melissa? Is it Julia? Priya? Mia? Today, at the start of a long weekend that brings an end to vacation season, I’ll be your date.

Not to hurt the franchise, but I am leading off with an easy recipe for pigs in a blanket (above). Raise an eyebrow if you must, but like onion dip and Ruffles, these are the first to go at a party.

If you can’t find those tiny cocktail hot dogs, use a Sabrett or Hebrew National cut into fourths. Personally, I think a thinner wiener allows for the optimal dough-to-dog ratio. And if, like some readers, you don’t want to use dough from a tube, a good biscuit recipe will do the trick. We’ve got a simple honey mustard sauce for dipping, but I sub sweet chili sauce for ketchup and add just a dab of Dijon.

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Pigs in a Blanket

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Those little dogs would be good on a plate next to my cucumber and watermelon salad that marries hoisin, lime juice and fresh jalapeño in a throuple of deliciousness. I picked it up several years ago when I was on a quest to find the perfect watermelon in Hope, Ark., where in August they celebrated the city’s 47th annual watermelon festival. (Bonus points for those who remember the other thing Hope is famous for.)

I grew up in an Italian household and learned a lot about cooking during some formative years reporting on food in California. While Cal-Ital cuisine is my default move in the kitchen, I always welcome a recipe that expands my repertoire. This silken tofu version of sook mei faan, the Cantonese creamed corn and rice dish offered at diners all over Hong Kong, is going into regular rotation.

Bonus: It gives me another way to use the seemingly bottomless bushel of silver queen corn I bought driving through North Carolina last week. Sixty ears of super sweet corn for $30 is a great bargain, but wow, is that a lot of corn. I blanched and froze some but have resorted to leaving ears on my friends’ porches like a corn fairy.

Let’s swing back to my culinary comfort zone for a moment. My family liked sausage and peppers so much that we ate them for breakfast. Here’s a pasta dish from Kay Chun that I’m sure my mom would have approved of. The addition of broccoli sautéed in the same pan you use for the sausage gives it some extra nutritional punch and makes it an even more appealing one-bowl supper. I like to use broccoli rabe, which I dunk into the pasta water as it starts to boil for just a minute or two, to tame the bitterness.

Now, a word about basil. Rebekah Peppler developed a bracing end-of-season cooler using basil-infused vermouth that involves lightly slapping the leaves to release the herb’s aromatics. Celebrate the life in which you have time to appreciate what spanking a basil leaf can do. If booze isn’t your thing, here is my annual reminder that any summer fruit can make a great shrub. Drink it with a shot of soda over ice.

All of these recipes are just the tiniest hint of what our team has for you on New York Times Cooking if The Price is Right. And it is! A monthly subscription will cost you less than a mediocre coffee drink with oat milk. If you run into technical problems, don’t ask me for help. You are much better off writing to [email protected].

I’ll be back Sunday. In the meantime, have a great long weekend and remember: When the rhythm is glad, there is nothing to be sad on the planet of the bass.

Kim Severson is a Southern-based correspondent who covers the nation’s food culture and contributes to NYT Cooking. She has written four books and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment. More about Kim Severson

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