Many families have specific holiday traditions that are unique to their family or to their family culture. In our case, my wife’s family has a tradition that stretches back before she or I were born. Instead of featuring a turkey or ham, our holiday meals are centered on the Hog Maw. This dish, which has both German and Pennsylvania Dutch roots, is basically a casserole… With a twist.
While most casseroles are baked in a dish, Hog Maw is baked inside of a pig stomach. Yes, you read that correctly, the mixed ingredients are stuffed inside a pig stomach, the stomach is sewn shut, and then the maw is baked for about 7 hours in the oven. If that description didn’t have to turning up your nose, then read on for our own unique recipe for Hog Maw.
Unfortunately, like so many others these days, we will not be gathering this year. So I suppose part of the article is meant to remind me, the author, of good times past and to help me to look forward to good times in the future, when we can once again gather with our loved ones and celebrate together.
2- Hog Maws
6 – lbs loose sausage
1 – medium head cabbage
4 – granny smith apples
8 – yellow potatoes peeled
1 – tbsp caraway
4 – tbsp dill
4 – tbsp sage
4 – tbsp parsley
3 – tbsp black pepper
2 – tbsp salt
1/4 – cup craisins
This is not the easiest thing in the world to put together and it’s usually a family affair. I handle the chopping and mixing while my wife and my wife’s mother prepare the Hog Maw. But before we get there, the first step is to actually purchase the maws (stomachs). I go to Hoffmans Meats in Hagerstown for most of my butchering needs and I simply call ahead and order two maws. When I get them home I soak them in a saltwater brine (about four cups of water and four or five tablespoons of salt). I soak them for up to two days before we make the meal.
I am no expert at sewing, but I can relate what they do as I have witnessed this for many years now. First they plug up the different valves in the stomach (I know it’s weird but hey, different food can sometimes be weird). While they work to plug up holes or even just weak spots in the stomachs, I chop the cabbage, apples, and peel and chop the potatoes. I add all the stuffing ingredients to a large mixing bowl and begin mixing all the ingredients together in the large plastic container. At this point I add the spices and craisins to the mix and continue integrating all the ingredients together.
Once the maws are ready and the ingredients are mixed, we begin stuffing. The average pig stomach is pretty big when fully stuffed. But we have to be careful to not overstuff the stomach because before we finish, we need to sew up the last opening. Usually we do all the prep the night before and then store the maws in the fridge overnight. I’m an early morning person anyhow so it falls to me to get up and get the maws in the oven. I preheat the oven to 325 degrees and place the maws on broiler pans with a few cups of water in the base of each pan. The maws will take about 7 hours to cook in a 325 degree oven. About four or five hours in, I usually tent the maws with tin foil so that the stomachs don’t get too burnt.
When the maws are finished I let them rest a bit before carving them into slices. Many folks don’t eat the actual stomach, in my family it’s about 50/50. I myself love the it but my wife finds it a bit gamey. You can also make this as a straight casserole and bake in in a casserole dish, we have done this in years past when we had more stuffing left over. But, personally, I don’t think it tastes nearly as good.
So, that’s how you make a traditional Hog Maw.
Do you have a different Holiday tradition? Share it with us in the comments section below!