Red’s Diner. One blue plate special Ed, Hold the cluck.

Many Sundays my mother would take me to the movies. John Wayne, Tammy, Elvis and the crew would line the screens and draw me off into far off worlds from a smallDiner Pennsylvania farm. It was great material. I could fight with Kelly’s Heroes for a week. It was a world not of video games and television but of imagination and exercise. It was, to put it simply, fun.

In our travels to those movies, we always stopped at the local diner. Red’s named after the owner was always full. You had to stand in line to get a seat during rush hours. Sundays get there before church let out or after they all went home for the evening or be prepared to wait. In return for that wait you received a meal of wonderful proportions. It wasn’t a miserly 3 ounce card size piece of meat on that plate. No it was meat overflowing with veggies piled high on the sides or on separate plates. A drink of your choice, soda, coffee, milk, tea, milkshakes… you name it along with dessert rendered you stuffed and cost you in the area of about $3.00.

There was nothing instant about their meals. There was nothing frozen either. They didn’t buy Service Automatons frozen banquet delight chicken and pop it into the fryer. They took their own fresh meat, prepared it, made up the batter and dipped it. I am still working on Red’s Fried Chicken. They swear it is just cornflake dipped chicken. Balderdash. I have never seen a risen crust on chicken like that from just ‘corn flaked dipped’ I will figure this out before I die or rob their recipe book.

Their Chicken and waffles were my favorite. Large fresh made waffles smothered in fresh made chicken and gravy covering the entire plate and all you can eat. I choose them with homemade fresh mash potatoes smothered in the same thick rich chicken laid gravy covering the entire large plate. We always ended up with the same waitress, a young lady planning to go to college and saving for that day. I was her waffle kid. I have no problems with that. I have found nothing to compare with their waffles. Their secrets were better guarded than Coke Classic. They still are.. grrr.

Red’s always was worn. It was one of those restaurants that had you walked in your first thought would be “Gawd do I want to eat here?” and then you realized that while worn it was cleaner than most hospital operating rooms. They did replace things but it rapidly turned back to the same worn appearance. You cannot have lines for lunch and supper while running a 24 hours a day restaurant without damage. It returned to the same worn state as fast as they fixed it. But who was buying looks? You were buying good eats.

It still exists. It ran under the same owners for my entire life until last year when they closed it. Some other devotee of Reds who missed their Chicken, their Roast Turkey dinners, Their Chief Salad from the highest reaches of Heaven while smothered in their own special dressing… and let me tell you it is NOT just oil and vinegar no matter what they swear it is.. bought it. Reds is running strong and just as crowded. And if you are ever around PSU perhaps you might stop in but realize you might have to stand in line at lunch and supper. I leave it up to you to find it. It wouldn’t be hard.

No it isn’t a Red’s recipe. As I said they guard that like Coke guards the Classic but it is a Diner recipe from the Retro Diner Cookbook by Linda Everett.

Highway Diner’s Chili-size Burgers

3 1/2 pounds ground round divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion
1 finely chopped garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 pound lean pork sausage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 finely chopped large canned green chili pepper
One 1 pound can whole tomatoes
One 1 pound can red kidney beans
4 good quality hamburger buns
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
In medium bowl combine 2 pounds round with garlic and form into 4 patties. Then in heavy skillet such as cast iron, sear on both sides. Turn down heat and cook for 5 to 8 more minutes or until juices run clear. Set aside in warmer.

Add the oil and saute the onions garlic and bell pepper until onions are semitransparent. Put in bowl and set aside.

Then brown the rest of the meats. Drain off fat.

Add salt, chili powder and pepper, tomatoes and kidney beans. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the cooked onion mix. Simmer a bit more or until completely heated. Stir often.

Place the patty on the bun and smother with chili mix.

top with chopped onions and cheese.

I’ll be right over.

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