What does hodgepodge mean?
Hodgepodge (noun): A confused mixture
The earliest version of hodgepodge may be the french dish hochepot. Hochepot comes from the French verb hocher (to shake) and pot, implying a dish with several ingredients all “shaken” and mixed up in a pot. Hochepot can be dated back to the Middle Ages and contains a mixture of fresh vegetables and meat such as oxtail, pig’s head, mutton shoulder, or cured meats. A recipe for hochepot can be found in the Manuscript of Sion, the oldest treatise of cooking in French, from the 13th century. A traditional recipe can be found in Marie Nightingale’s “Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens” which uses salt pork.
Adding a jumble of ingredients to a broth can be found in cuisines across the world, but we know sometimes the simplest ideas can yield the best results. In other words: get a pot, add stuff, add heat, dinner’s served.
What’s in hodgepodge?
In Nova Scotia, hodgepodge is a typical summer dinner. It represents the early harvest of summer in the form of a savoury and satiating meal. Hodgepodge uses new potatoes and carrots, meaning they are harvested very young and are “new” in contrast to last year’s storage crops. New potatoes and carrots have thin skins and are much sweeter as the sugars haven’t developed into starches. Bad for mashed potatoes, great for hodgepodge.
The root vegetables are joined by green and yellow beans as well as freshly shelled peas, all brought together in salted boiling water. Some recipes are thickened with flour or cornstarch, while others reply on heavy cream and butter for a full mouthfeel.
How Nova Scotians enjoy it
We conducted a survey on our social media channels to see how our audience enjoys their hodgepodge, but we didn’t expect such controversy to surface. All in the spirit of a good meal, we learned that to call Nova Scotians passionate about their hodgepodge would be an understatement. Many recalled positive childhood memories about their family’s recipe, and proudly shared their favourite additions to this traditional dish.
74% of participants in our online survey liked their hodgepodge classic, while 26% enjoyed it with a twist. Some choose to add protein like fresh haddock fillets towards the end of cooking, crispy bacon as a garnish, pan fried scallops, or even hot dogs! Some enjoy theirs with a generous handful of herbs such as dill, thyme or chives. Some adapt the recipe in order to include a variety of vegetables throughout the summer and fall.
Our favourite amendments include finishing with a dollop of garlic scape pesto (we know you all have too much in the fridge right now). For a dairy free option, finish with full fat coconut milk in place of heavy cream.
- 1-2 cups new potatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1 cup carrots, cut into large chunks
- 2 cups green and yellow beans, trimmed and halved
- 1 cup fresh peas, shelled
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup butter
- Salt & pepper
Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Season with salt. Turn heat onto high and bring to a boil.
Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are about half way done, about 5-7 minutes.
Add carrots and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the both potatoes and carrots are tender, about 5 more minutes.
Add the beans and peas and continue cooking until their colour intensifies, about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and add cream and butter. Taste to adjust seasoning and add a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper if you know what’s good for you.
Finish with your favourite fresh herbs or bacon for a garnish.