Friday, January 17, 2014

A Pow-Wow About Chow Chow!

I had my first experience with chow chow within the last 6 months.  CHOW CHOW? I wondered for years what the heck it was exactly.  It so happens that a very close friend of mine's family has been making it for generations.  Immediately, I thought that was rather spectacular, having the recipe passed down and continued.  He personally doesn't care for chow chow, and it is used in a traditional fashion by his family, i.e as a relish for hotdogs and a general condiment.  I on the other hand,  like taking foods to the edge and I set out to see what I could come up with, converting it from a condiment into a substantial and sometimes unconventional ingredient.
Chow Chow is of French Canadian and American descent, but has links to China and India and is said to have reached Louisiana, where it is extremely popular, and other low lying Southern states via migrants that settled there.
There are a plethora of ingredients that make up chow chow including but not limited to beans, corn, green and red tomatoes, squash, okra, cabbage, chayote, peppers, asparagus and onions to name a few.  I think it largely depends on seasonal veggies and what is available in particular areas as to the final product.  Chow Chow may be sweet or savory, the sweeter version being favored more towards the north and generally served cold. It may also be eaten as is. Some of the country stores that peddle chow chow 'from the counter' versions, have been reminiscent of cat barf and to me not appealing enough to the eye to even entertain!  My friend's family makes a very uniform and visually appealing blend that my palate has discovered to contain cabbage, green and red peppers, pickling spices, give or take onions, plus vinegar and sugar among the ingredients.

With the formalities out of the way, we move on to one of the recipes I created using this magnificent cacophony of sweet, tangy and savory, a recipe I lovingly named Annette's Chow Chow Sausage Balls, because it is my friend's mom's name and provider of my finally pleasant images of what was once an uninviting mystery to me!
Recipe:
1 lb. good quality sage sausage
1/4 c. fresh bread crumbs
1/4 c. chow chow, squeezed of excess moisture
1 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
2 tsp. minced onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. freshly chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
SPST
For optional sauce to coat:
2 tbsp. good quality ketchup
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. less sodium soy
Preheat oven to 350*F.  Combine ingredients down to the garlic.  SPST.  Mix with large tine fork or hands until evenly distributed.
Roll into balls about 1" in diameter.
Place on baking sheet evenly spaced and bake until juices run clear and no longer pink, about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 175 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, bring sauce up to a boil and reduce to low.  Toss or fold  meatballs in the sauce immediately after removing from oven if desired.  Makes about 24.



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