I was eating a 7-11 hotdog with the works(well almost) the other day and began thinking about my toppings. Or, to be exact, the lack of one topping, relish. I don’t like relish, well, at least not sweet relish. I can eat it, but it turns me off. For whatever reason, I decided to wiki it. I was surprised to see something on the wiki page called ‘chow chow.’ They way it was referenced made me think this is some common relish that slipped under my radar. How could a topping slip under my radar? I love relishes, just not sweet pickle relish, surely this must be a wiki gaff!
Well, turns out chow chow is as old as sin. It’s common in the south and even Cracker Barrel serves some in its gauntlet of consumerism gift store. How did I miss this. I had to fix this wrong immediately and proceeded to look for recipes.
I immediately noticed(aside from some horrible instructions/grammar) that there are no concrete chow chow recipes. Wiki references these two:
I used the first as a basis for my simmer stock, and winged the rest of it. Basically, after my research it became apparent that chow chow’s origins lie in a combination of two factors:
- People had an abundance of left over veggies in the old days from their gardens.
- People were intent to live through cold barren winters.
So basically, it seemed that the best thing to do was make these vegetables into a relish, can them, and enjoy them in the rough winter months(although this contradicts chow chow’s southern stronghold). I decided I would use a few chow chow staples and include whatever veggies I had around. Here is my recipe for chicago style chow chow:
Chicago style chow chow
1 head of cabbage, weighing 2lbs, 6 5/8 oz, or 1094 grams
Carrots 6 5/8oz or 190g
Cucumber, 1lb roughly
Green beans, 144 grams
Tomatillos, 1lb give or take
Red Tomatoes, 1lb give or take
Green Peppers, 2
Red Pepper, 1
White Onions, 2lbs give or take
Vinegar, 6 cups
Sugar, 3 cups
Mustard seeds, 3 tbsp
Note: Some of the measurements are so precise due to a scale I had readily available and pen and paper. None of these are concrete, just for my records really. I think the goal would be to attain my gross weight with an assortment of those vegetables, then you should be fine.
- Shred cabbage using a grater. Use the blade side of the grater. When it gets to the point where you feel it may be a danger to your fingers, slice the rest. I like to push down with the grater on the already shredded cabbage to help break it down. This helps release the juices. Sprinkle with salt liberally one each new layer of shredded cabbage.
- Grate the onions and carrots, using the mozza side of the grater(see grater break down here).
- Chop the peppers finely, but I see no drawbacks to a finer chop.
- Cut up the tomatoes into about 1 inch cubes
- Chop green beans to about 1 inch cuts
- Chop cucumber to pinky sized cubes
- Let stand in fridge overnight
- Put on stove, add the liquid mixture, stir. At first I worried I didn’t have enough liquid, but upon heating all this the vegetables really started to let their juices go.
- Bring to simmer, simmer 15 minutes.
- Immediadetly transfer this to cannign jars or whatever jars you have on hand. I Washed all mine in a dishwasher beforehand to sterilize, then put in a 180 degree oven while the chow chow simmer.
- Flip jars upside down so heat concentrates on lids(via this recipe)
- Eat upon cooling or store for whenever.
As of this writing, I have not tried my recipe. Stay tuned for an update on whether or not this is edible!
UPDATE 8.10.2010 : The chow chow is tasty, very tasty. How it compares to authentic chow-chow I'm not sure. I guess I'll have to reupdate when that happens.