Uncategorized

Bright, Beautiful Chow Chow Recipes – Tricks and Tips

Let No Produce Go to Waste: Bright, Beautiful Chow Chow Recipes

NO MATTER what your tastes are, you can like chow chow…at least some version of it,” said chef K.D. Jones of Jonesey’s D&D, a pop-up food shop in Charleston, W.Va. But he admits it took some time for him to come around to the classic garden relish that’s pickled, piquant and powerfully complex. “When I was growing up, I didn’t like chow chow,” he said. “I’m not sure why. It was just kind of off-putting.”

A condiment convert, Mr. Jones has been making, eating and preaching the gospel of chow chow all summer. In mid-August he tweeted, “Going to help my wife’s grandma make chow chow. It’s a tradition and really the only reason she keeps a garden. Excited.” The result was different from his own grandmother’s slaw-like chow chow. In this mid-August iteration, thick chunks of green bell peppers, onions and tomatoes swam in a bright-red brine.

The world of chow chow is vast and remarkably diverse. Some versions are sweeter or spicier; the vegetables may be chopped coarser or shredded finer. “One family’s chow chow is completely different from another family’s,” Mr. Jones said. “It even changes each season because the vegetables are so different.”

Find the recipe for Late Summer Chow Chow below.

Blending sweetness, subtle heat and a vibrant tang, chow chow is almost always on the menu at Lost Creek Farm in north-central West Virginia, where my wife, Amy Dawson, and I grow the vegetables we serve at our farm dinners. Chow chow brightens up fried chicken, savory hand pies or smoky, salty, ham-seasoned beans. This summer, head cheese paired off with green-apple chow chow and fiery six-pepper chow chow topped maple bologna. A green-tomato chow chow brought at least as much tang as tartar sauce would to pan-fried trout.

Amy and I have pulled together over a dozen chow chow recipes from our shared family collections alone. Most of these call for at least a few peppers, onions and cabbages, while others make use of celery, horseradish, cucumbers or cauliflower. A chow chow my grandmother introduced me to is composed almost entirely of green tomatoes. A faded note scribbled by Amy’s great-grandmother on beige, tattered stationery aptly describes “Maude’s Recipe,” a cabbage-and-cucumber-heavy chow chow, as “a most surprising condiment.”

Some versions are sweeter or spicier; the vegetables may be chopped coarser or shredded finer.

Chow chow is not unique to West Virginia or Appalachia, but it’s hard to overstate its importance in the region’s culinary canon. In rural communities where agrarian traditions are passed down in fields and gardens, so are time-honored preservation rituals in kitchens and root cellars.

Not everyone who dines at Lost Creek Farm has a chow chow tale to share, but plenty do. Maybe that’s because the story of Appalachian food is so often told through narratives of scarcity. Chow chow is about making use of abundance, not making do without.

In my mind, the gardening season is divided into three distinct phases, for at least three different styles of chow chow. From late-spring to early-summer, I make a chow chow that’s earthy, root-vegetable-heavy and allium-rich. The middle chow chow phase starts in August, with midsummer peppers, cabbage and, sometimes, apples or wild pears. The final and most prolific phase happens at the end of the growing season, in early fall, when gardeners work to salvage produce just before the arrival of a piercing frost. During this phase—what I consider peak season—the chow chows are especially heavy on green tomatoes and peppers that won’t ripen before the cold sets in.

Find the recipe for Sweet and Smoky Green Apple-Turnip Chow Chow below.

Chop or shred your ingredients according to intended use. If you envision chow chow as a side dish or as a hearty topper—for burgers, say, or hoagies—you may want to keep your vegetables coarsely chopped. An accompaniment to small bites will require mincing or shredding. Whether you pressure-seal jars for long-term preservation or store in the refrigerator for faster consumption, give the chow chow at least a week to develop its flavors.

This week when I walked the garden, I noticed the change of seasons on full display. Shadows are longer on mountains painted with a slight golden hue. The air is as cool as it’s been since early May. Hundreds of tomatoes dangle from trellises, light green and far from maturity. We’ll be making chow chow soon.

Heami Lee for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Rebecca Bartoshesky

Ingredients

  • 6 cups finely chopped cabbage
  • 8 cups green tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cup onions, diced
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

  1. In a medium stock pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring often to allow vegetables to cook down evenly. Once mixture boils, reduce heat to low, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to drain, transfer and pack vegetables into sterile quart-size jars. Pour hot liquid over vegetables to cover completely, leaving at least 1 inch of space below rim of jar.
  3. Seal jars with lids and tighten until just “finger tight” (no tighter than you can make it using only your fingertips). Let cool on countertop, then refrigerate and enjoy for up to one month.

Click here to view this recipe in our recipes section.

Heami Lee for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Rebecca Bartoshesky

Ingredients

  • 4 cups shredded cabbage, chopped to roughly inch-long pieces
  • 4 cups grated turnip
  • 4 cups diced green apple (a firm, tart variety like Granny Smith)
  • 2 cups diced yellow onions
  • 2 cups minced scallions
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 3 tablespoons dark maple syrup or sorghum syrup
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a medium stock pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring often to allow vegetables to cook down evenly. Once mixture boils, reduce heat to low, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to drain, transfer and pack vegetables into sterile quart-size jars. Pour hot liquid over vegetables to cover completely, leaving at least 1 inch of space below rim of jar.
  3. Seal jars with lids and tighten until just “finger tight” (no tighter than you can make it using only your fingertips). Let cool on countertop, then refrigerate and enjoy for up to one month.

Click here to view this recipe in our recipes section.

Heami Lee for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Rebecca Bartoshesky

Ingredients

  • 8 cups thinly shredded cabbage, chopped to roughly inch-long pieces
  • 2 cups diced green tomatoes
  • 2 cups diced yellow onions
  • 2 cups sweet minced red peppers
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup minced scallions
  • 2 small jalapeño chiles, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons dark maple syrup or sorghum syrup
  • 1½ teaspoons turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a medium stock pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring often to allow vegetables to cook down evenly. Once mixture boils, reduce heat to low, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to drain, transfer and pack vegetables into sterile quart-size jars. Pour hot liquid over vegetables to cover completely, leaving at least 1 inch of space below rim of jar.
  3. Seal jars with lids and tighten until just “finger tight” (no tighter than you can make it using only your fingertips). Let cool on countertop, then refrigerate and enjoy for up to one month.

Click here to view this recipe in our recipes section.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Share your experience with these recipe. Did you make any adaptations? Join the conversation below.

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8