My household is mainly vegetarian, so I had to kind of work around this challenge. Taking “meat-and-potatoes” as an idiom steered me toward basic, wholesome foods, and of course I took the "and potatoes" part literally. I couldn't resist this great little book from 1941, 250 Ways of Serving Potatoes.
The Recipe: Potatoes and Cabbage With Cheese Sauce
3 cups diced potatoes
1 quart chopped cabbage
1 pint boiling water
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup grated cheese
The Date/Year and Region: 1941, USA
How Did You Make It: Following the recipe's directions, the potatoes and cabbage were boiled in shallow salted water.
The cheese sauce was made in a separate pan. First the evaporated milk was scalded. I don't use evaporated milk much and it looked awful brown to me!
Grated cheddar to add.
Done! Still looks kinda weird and brown.
The vegetables were arranged in a dish and the cheese sauce poured over.
The sauce was thin and they nearly drowned!
Time to Complete: About 30 minutes.
Total Cost: About $7.
How Successful Was It?: This was delicious, as I would expect potatoes in cheese to naturally be. The sauce was a little thin, but very cheesy and the dish had a nice amount of salt. I was skeptical about the evaporated milk but the overwhelming flavor was the cheese.
Overall, it was a basic, hearty dish. Very "meat-and-potatoes!"
How Accurate Is It?: I am not sure what kind of cheese would have been used; the recipe doesn't specify. But otherwise I followed as closely as possible. A mid-20th century recipe is pretty easy to duplicate with 21st century techniques.