O Brother, Where Art Thou: A menu

I don’t know what I love more about this film,  the actors and directors who made this surreal tale  of the Depression Era South or the soundtrack.  After re-watching the film for the fourth or fifth time, I had to host it for Food ‘n Flix.

Surely, I thought, our merry band of foodie film aficionados could glean some inspiration from the movie like some good old-fashioned Southern comfort food, a bread recipe inspired by Pappy O’Daniel’s The Flour Hour, or something inspired by the Odysseyian travels.

This Coen brothers directed tale, loosely based on the Odyssey, follows three escapees from a Mississippi chain gang.  Everett, the self-appointed leader, enlists Pete and Delmar on a treasure hunt.  The characters they meet are a composite of stereotypes from the Depression Era South:  bombastic politicians, traveling salesmen, gospel singers, poor farmers, bank robbers and corrupt lawmen.  Sprinkled in are allusions from the Odyssey like the opening Muse, the Sirens,  and the Cyclops.   (There’s a plethora of other comparisons but I don’t want to turn this post into a 9th grade English class.)

Once I sat down and watch the film for the sixth or seventh time (and along with the help from the script), I made this definitive list.  (It’s definitive until someone points out an omission…)

  • “Big Rock Candy Mountain”
  • Stolen chicken around the campfire while they are on the lam
  • Bags of flour in the boxcar
  • Horse stew at the Hogwallop’s meager farm 
  • Pass the Biscuits Pappy O’Daniel Flour Hour:  “When you’re fixin’ to fry up some flapjacks or bake a mess a biscuits”
  • Dry goods’ store bounty
  • Grilled gopher
  • Delmar:  “Preacher said my sins are warshed away, including that Piggly Wiggly I knocked over in Yazoo!”
  • Junior:  “That’s Governor Menelaus ‘Pass the Biscuits, Pappy’ O’Daniel, and he’d sure ‘preciate it if you ate his farina and voted him a second term.”
  • Coffee around a campfire while Tommy sings the blues
  • Pete’s dream of opening a fine restaurant
  • Pie in window sill
  • Jug of Siren Song XXX moonshine
  • Everett: “I guess we’ll have a couple a steaks and some gratinated  potatoes and wash it down with your finest bubbly wine-…..and a couple leafs a raw cabbage.”
  • Picnic with Big Dan:  fricassee, beer, corn on the cob
  • Jars of candy at Woolworth’s
  • Glasses of bourbon on the veranda
  • Pablum
  • Red Velvet Cake on the Invitation Only table (and iced tea)
  • Stokes getting pummeled by tomatoes

I decided to focus on a meal inspired by Delmar and Everett’s fine dining experience:  “steaks and some gratinated  potatoes and wash it down with your finest bubbly wine-…..and a couple leafs a raw cabbage.”

An “O Brother” Menu

T-Bone in the Ashes
T-Bones in the Ashes could have been a campfire meal if they had skinned one of the cows Nelson gunned down.  It’s also a nod to T-Bone Burnett, the music producer of the soundtrack.

In the ashes.

“Gratinated” Potatoes

For poor enchanted Pete

The recipes follow.   For the T-Bone recipe, click here.

Before and after!

“Gratinated” Potatoes



  • 2 c. half and half
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 lbs. Red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/3 lb. Gruyère  cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat half and half, nutmeg, minced garlic, and  salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around edge. Season with pepper. Remove from heat.
  2. You may peel potatoes if you wish, but I like to leave the skins on for this homey dish.  Using a food processor, slice potatoes 1/8″ thick.
  3. Butter a casserole dish.   Layer potatoes in even layers in the dish.  Pour over half and half mixture.  Sprinkle with Gruyèr.
  4. Bake until potatoes are fork tender and top is bubbling and brown, about an hour.

Yield: 4-6

Bubby and browned.

While potatoes bake, make the coleslaw.


Adapted from Farm Journal Country Cookbook (1959)

The original recipe, seriously, was listed under a recipe for “Roasted Racoon.”


  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 t. celery seeds
  • 10 oz. angel hair coleslaw mix
  • 1 cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper


  1. Mix mayonnaise, vinegar and celery seeds until smooth.
  2. Place coleslaw mix, cucumber, and green onions in a serving bowl.  Dress with mayonnaise mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss well.
  3. Serve.



Total aside:

I have not been blogging (or cooking) much lately and so on a lazy Sunday morning, I got a bit rejuvenated and decided to knock a couple of blog posts out.  This was one of them.  I ran to the store for steaks.  Can you believe that I could not find any T-bones?  (Well, I could, but they were about 1/2″ thick.  For this recipe, you need  1 1/2″ to 2″ thick steaks.)  I went to three stores.  One didn’t have ANY at all.  I had to wait until Monday for our local butcher to open.

Since my evening dinner plans were dashed, what do you think we had instead?  It was still a fitting meal for this film, hobo food.  Yep, we had hot links and canned beans.

I don’t know if I bought exceptionally good steaks (probably because I love this butcher shop) or it’s the cooking-in-the-ashes method, but these steaks were almost fork tender.

This meal was a success.  Like I said, the steaks were so tender and delicious, the coleslaw is a new favorite, and the “gratinated” potatoes reminded me of Sunday dinners of my childhood.


I have to share this page from my grandmother’s Farm Journal Cookbook where I found the coleslaw recipe.

The coleslaw recipe is at the bottom.

But, if you ever need a recipe for Roasted Racoon, you’re good to go!

I’m late in getting this posted, but you have exactly one day to participate in this round of Food ‘n Flix.  Look for a round up of recipes here soon.  If you’ve run out of time for September, please join Food ‘n Flix for the October feature film,  The Addams Family/Addams Family Values, hosted at Coffee and Casseroles.

7 comments to O Brother, Where Art Thou: A menu