Monday, September 14, 2009


In the magical world of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, there are two main staples that are available at just about any gathering: family style chicken, and dynamites. If you travel more than 15 miles away from Woonsocket in any direction, no one you meet will have heard of either of these dishes.

The former is simply roasted chicken served with french fries, roasted potatoes (or both), and pasta with marinara sauce. This is never eaten at home and only served in four or five restaurants in the Greater Woonsocket Area (I didn't make that term up, that's what they call it).

The latter is a strange sort of sloppy joe made with sauteed onions and peppers with ground beef and some sort of tomato. Depending on the cook this seasoned ground beef varied from mild to extraordinarily spicy. This mixture is served in a grinder roll typically made from the most bleached and bromated flour legally available. This is never available on any restaurant menu I've ever seen and is only served at gatherings and is always prepared by someone's mother or mémère.

While I lived in Woonsocket for 25 years and was a professional chef I never made dynamites -- I made family style chicken approximately 11,000 times, mostly at a restaurant that served little else -- but never dynamites.

Until now.

I didn't have a recipe for dynamites so I just deconstructed what I normally found in the dish. I browned some garlic and onion then added chopped peppers, ground beef, thyme, and tomato paste until I had something that resembled what I was used to.

I took a few liberties. For starters I used vidalia onion which I would wager has seldom made an appearance in dynamites. I also used red and yellow peppers in place of the traditional green peppers because it is my firm belief that green bell peppers are not suitable for human consumption. Not many people share this view. Lastly I used hot dog buns as no one in New York City knows what a grinder roll is unless they have come from Rhode Island.

I'm pretty certain that this is the smallest batch of dynamite mix ever made and possibly the only time in history that fewer than twelve people have been present during the consumption of said dynamites.

Who knows what marvelous adventures still await us in our quest to recreate niche local cuisines while emptying our freezer of small portions of ground beef?

Now if only there was some sort of Woonsocket dish made from torillas and chorizo sausage.


Roger said...

It is lucky you didn't make such a small amount within Woonsocket city limits. It is against the law to make dynamites for less than 50 people. You also need to serve them on fresh Dupras Bakery offical dynamite rolls.

Unknown said...

I know! There are no rolls in the NYC area that are anything like the Dupras rolls. I should get some for the freezer this weekend!

Laura Hughes said...

I haven't thought about dynamites in a long time...

They served family style chicken at Gregg's in Providence! But I guess that is technically about 15 miles away.