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Old 12-24-2005, 02:27 AM   #1
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Question about Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish) cooking

Mods, please feel free to move this one to the Soup forum if it really belongs there.

PeppA and her Mom have a soup that's supposedly Pennsylvania Dutch, that they call, "Chicken Corn Chowder". Basically, it's chicken breasts, simmered in liquid, with corn and what they call "egg dribbles". I'm not exactly sure how they prepare it, because I've never watched them make it. The egg dribbles are just scrambled eggs that are poured into the hot liquid as it cooks (like Egg Drop Soup). Have any of you all ever heard of this?

The reason I ask, is that I have a very hard time thinking of this soup as a "chowder". I was always taught that a "chowder" has potatoes, onions, a protein ingredient of some kind (usually clam, but other things as well), and is cream-based, with the exception being Manhatten Clam Chowder, which is tomato-based.

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Old 12-24-2005, 06:25 AM   #2
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Went to Food Lover's Companion and they define chowder as:

"A thick chuncky seafood soup, of which the clam chowder is the most well known. The name comes from the French chaudiere (there is an accent mark in there that I have no idea how to reproduce), a cauldron in which fishermen made their stews fresh from the sea. New England-style chowder is made with milk or cream. Manhattan style with tomatoes. Chowder can contain any of several varieties of seafood and vegetables, The term is also used to describe any thick, rich soup containing chunks of food (for instance, corn chowder)."

Now I grew up in New York City and my mom made the best Manhattan style clam chowder on the planet.

So my bias is to include Manhattan style into a chowder, even though it does not include cream or milk.

But I also sorta agree that there should be cream in the mix to be a real chowder.

And lived in New England for many years and also think it could be called a 'chowda'.

All that being said, I would let my relatives call the dish anything they wish.

There was a time when a martini was gin, OK maybe, yech vodka, with a touch of vermouth.

Now anything one can toss in a martini glass is a martini.

If the world can desecrate the martini, as far as I am concerned, it can call chicken breasts in egg drop soup a chowda.

Just my take on things.

Take care and God bless.
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:07 AM   #3
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Allen, here in Central PA, chicken corn chowder is a staple. I don't have a recipe but can get you a good traditional one. Around here, you don't dribble egg in like egg drop soup. Instead you add chopped hard boiled egg. The soup also contains rivels (I'm wondering if that's what someone confused with dribbles), which are like little egg noodles. They're great in soups and stews. Here's how I make them:
Pour 1 c flour on a flat surface, such as a cutting board. Make a well in the center, and then pour in a slightly beaten egg to which 1 tsp salt has been added. Using your hands and a knife, work these 3 ingredients together into a noodle-type pastry. Knead once or twice, and then chop it into small pea size pieces. Dribble the rivels into gently boiling soup, stirring constantly so they stay separate. Cook 10-15 minutes more, or until the rivels are done.
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Old 12-25-2005, 10:16 AM   #4
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Thanks folks. This is one of those things that will probably never be resolved in our family, mainly as a difference in where we grew up, and experience/training in cooking. I'll admit that I am biased towards more fancified presentations/ingredients, due to my training and experience working in country clubs. The way they make this violates everything I've been taught or learned about how to make a really good soup.

Auntdot, yes, nowadays, many folks will change a recipe at a whim, on just about everything that was considered "traditional". I've got a few different Chowder recipes, and with the exception of Manhatten Clam Chowder, they are all cream-based. One of these days, I'm going to try some of them, like Catfish Corn Chowder.

PABaker, I was hoping you would chime in on this. I was sure the original dish is a staple to Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. I was hoping you would be able to clue me in to what the original was. Apparently, PeppA's mom or g'ma altered the recipe to fit their tastes or style of cooking.

One question: Do you think I could substitute store-bought, frozen, Spatzle for the rivels?
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Old 12-25-2005, 01:14 PM   #5
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chowder comes from the french word for caldron. chowders begin with salt pork or bacon, and add aromatic veggies: onion, leeks, garlic, celery, etc. usually fish followed with whatever herbs and veggies were at hand. broth and wine.

chowders in some locales used milk for the broth. the cream concept is newer, based more on bisques which are pureed and enriched with cream. chowders are chunky.
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Old 12-25-2005, 04:07 PM   #6
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Chicken Corn Rivel Soup
3 - 4 lb. stewing chicken

2 T. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 1/2 C. celery chopped

1 medium onion chopped

2 T. minced parsley

1 quart corn (fresh, frozen or canned)

In a large kettle, cover chicken with water. Add salt and pepper. Cook
until tender. Remove meat from the chicken and cut up into small pieces. Set
aside.

Heat the broth to boiling and add the vegetables. Cook for 15 minutes.
Add rivels.

Rivels

1 C. flour

1 egg

1/4 C. milk

Combine flour and egg. Add milk. Mix rivels by cutting with two forks
to make crumbs the size of cherry stones. Drop rivels into boiling broth
while stirring to prevent rivels from sticking together.

Add the chicken back to the pot. Garnish with parsley or grated hard
boiled egg.

Serves 8 - 10
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Old 12-25-2005, 04:10 PM   #7
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  • 4 - 5 lb. roaster chicken (or you can use chicken pieces, i.e. legs, breasts, thighs)
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped small
  • 4 quarts (16 cups) water (if you use chicken pieces, you might want to strengthen the broth by using chicken stock)
  • 6 or 8 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cobs (you may substitute canned or frozen corn, about 6+ cups worth)
  • 4 hard cooked eggs, chopped into medium size pieces
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE RIVELS: Wait until the soup is done to prepare this dough. Then, in a bowl, mix 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 beaten eggs, blending until the mixture is crumbly (NOT SMOOTH).
In a large soup pot, combine the onion, celery, chicken, and cold water (or stock). Bring to simmer over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to low and continue simmering until the chicken is done and ready to fall off the bones--an hour or more. Remove chicken and let cool. Cut the meat into pieces and reserve, discarding the bones. You may skim the fat off the stock if you wish.
When ready to finalize the soup, add the corn kernels, the reserved chicken pieces, the hard boiled eggs, the saffron, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let cook for 10 minutes.
Make up the rivel dough at this point and add to the soup by rubbing the mixture between your fingers over the pot of soup, dropping in small amounts bit by bit. Judi notes: "I make mine in tiny 'strings.'. They should not be big--that is a dumpling! Some people make them about the size of a pea. I like mine slightly larger. They do swell up some."
When the rivels are cooked and the soup has thickened, ladle into big bowls and garnish with some extra sprinkles of parsley
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Old 12-25-2005, 10:34 PM   #8
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This is one of my specialties! And yes, I am from Lancaster County. I like a thick hearty soup so I've added my own touches. I've made so much of this lately because of so many requests. People up here in New England have never tasted it before. And they do insist on calling it "chowder".
Bonus: this freezes well!

Start with a good poultry stock. Add chopped celery & onion. When the vegetables are tender, add the pasta part: Acini de Pepe, Pastina, any tiny pasta shapes. After a couple minutes, add fresh or frozen corn kernels. (White corn, preferably.)

At the end of cooking time, add diced, cooked chicken & chopped hard boiled eggs. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

That's pretty much it. You need to keep tasting as you go - if the broth isn't chicken-y enough, I use chicken base.
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Old 12-26-2005, 09:01 AM   #9
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Lancaster!

How great! I remember driving through there on way to New York and the scenery there is like a picture. All the fields and wonderful markets! Just one place I would like to return. Is it still that way? I heard the people around there (Amish) really know how to cook. The market was something I never experienced before. Who can shop for food when on a trip? thanks for sharing with us. PA, thanks for explaining how to fix these. I would prefer them to store bought. I always appreciate your input. Thanks
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Old 12-26-2005, 10:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corinne
This is one of my specialties! And yes, I am from Lancaster County. I like a thick hearty soup so I've added my own touches. I've made so much of this lately because of so many requests. People up here in New England have never tasted it before. And they do insist on calling it "chowder".
Bonus: this freezes well!

Start with a good poultry stock. Add chopped celery & onion. When the vegetables are tender, add the pasta part: Acini de Pepe, Pastina, any tiny pasta shapes. After a couple minutes, add fresh or frozen corn kernels. (White corn, preferably.)

At the end of cooking time, add diced, cooked chicken & chopped hard boiled eggs. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

That's pretty much it. You need to keep tasting as you go - if the broth isn't chicken-y enough, I use chicken base.
I'm sure I can make this very easily. I make my own concentrated chicken stock, which I dilute when I cook with it. Heck, I even have some cooked egg whites right now, as they made devilled eggs yesterday as part of Christmas Dinner. I may just have to make it tonight, as I have a housefull of sick kids. Whether anyone besides me will eat it or not, that's another question.

Editted to add: Corinne, you mentioned seasoning with salt and pepper. How about other seasonings? I usually season a chicken soup with thyme, sage, paprika, and garlic. Would these be authentic? I've heard that most Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, while good and hearty, does not always have a lot of seasonings.
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