Monday, September 30, 2013

East Coast Pickled Chow

Pickled chow is one of those things I never liked as a kid, but enjoy as an adult.  I used to watch my grandmother make it at the end of the summer when I was little; to this day, the smell of pickling spice and sight of a bowl of veggies soaking in pickling salt brings me back to that memory EVERY single time.

Chow is a perfect match for fish cakes (especially if they're made with salt cod) and is very common on the East Coast.  You can also have it on burgers or as a side dish with a pot roast... but with fish cakes is the best way, in my opinion.  It is super easy to make and only really contains two items as the main ingredients- green tomatoes and onions.

This recipe was adapted from "You Can Too!" by Elizabeth Peirce.

16 cups of green tomatoes, chopped into small pieces. I cut mine into strips about 1/4" wide.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it will be stewed and break down a bit once cooked.  It took me about 20 tomatoes to get 16 cups.
8 cups of thinly sliced onion- I used large Spanish yellow onions. It took 3 for me to get 8 cups.
3 cups of white vinegar
6 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup pickling spice, tied in cheesecloth and removed after mixture is cooked

Put layers of chopped tomatoes and sliced onions in a large bowl (I prefer stainless steel because it gets cold).  In between layers, sprinkle coarse pickling salt. In total, you'll use about 1/2 cup of salt.  Cover and let sit for at least six hours, preferably overnight if you have time.  If you put the covered bowl in the fridge, even better.  The salt will draw out excess moisture from the mixture.

Drain the veggies, give them a good rinse with water.

Then, put everything in a large pot.  Add the vinegar, sugar, and spice bundle.  Bring to a boil, stirring regularly.  Once a boil has been achieved, reduce to a medium heat and cook for about 15 minutes- you're looking for everything to soften and the liquid to reduce a bit.

Prepare your hot water bath, simmer lids, sterilize jars, and remove warm jars from pot just before you fill them up.  When you're ready, remove spice bundle from pot, then ladle hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/2" of headspace.  Remove air bubbles, then affix lids and rings around jars.  Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.  Voila- you're done!

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