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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.

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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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Old 12-26-2005, 07:38 PM   #11
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Well, I talked to PeppA about this today. Apparently, they mix about a dozen eggs with some flour and dribble that into the broth as it cooks, as that's the way her g'pa liked it; he didn't like chopped hard cooked eggs and rivels. I've mentioned making this the way it's "supposed" to be made, and PeppA told me straight off the bat that she wouldn't touch it.

I guess this is just going to be one of those things we're not going to agree on, so I'm going to drop it.
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Old 12-26-2005, 08:04 PM   #12
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Allen, coming from a guy who lives next to the largest Amish population, it's important to remember that our Amish friends work and live in their own world. If they call something chowder, it's chowder. No arguments. I'll defer to Corinne, tho. She seems to have a good handle on Amish recipes. By the way, I've never tasted an Amish dish I didn't like!
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Old 12-26-2005, 10:29 PM   #13
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I live near PA Amish country and around here this is called chicken corn soup. Keep in mind there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks . Think chicken noodle soup made from scratch. You make chicken broth as you normally do. Obviously you add lots of corn kernals (not creamed) and fresh off the cob is wonderful. I add diced potatoes and no noodles but some use noodles or rivels instead of potatoes. I also add finely chopped onion and celery as well as parsley to the finished soup. Chopped hard cooked egg is essential. If someone wants a recipe I can hunt for one. I don't use a recipe, it is something you just make.
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Old 12-27-2005, 10:52 AM   #14
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I guess I'm not voicing my thoughts on this one very clearly.

I can get along with calling it "Chowder".

My major gripes are that PeppA and her mom seem to break all the rules that I've used when they make this dish. I've cooked a lot of Cajun in the past, and have become addicted to having just about all of my foods caramelized, and deglazing the pan when I make the sauce/broth has been ingrained into me since I went to school.

When they cook this dish, they don't saute anything, just throw raw chicken into water with a little bullion and canned corn (which I can detect a funny aftertaste in), bring that to a boil, then add in what they call "dribbles", which is a mixture of scrambled eggs with a little flour. They rarely use salt, to cut down on MIL's sodium (although she adds a lot of salt once it hits her plate). No onions, celery, garlic, etc.

When I make chicken soup (like last night), I start with onions, celery, salt, freshly-ground black pepper, garlic, paprika, thyme, and sage, and saute that. Then, I add the picked and chopped roast chicken, and stir that around a bit, then add about 2 qt of my strong homemade chicken stock. I check for salt last, and add more if needed. I did rice for the starch, as PeppA doesn't like frozen egg noodles. I cooked the rice separately, and treated it like gumbo, adding plain rice to the bowl, then ladling soup over it.

I will readily recognize that I have several biases here, towards food that I grew up eating, and to foods that are more "gourmet", which comes from my training and work experience. I also recognize that there aren't any "rules" when it comes to cooking. You cook what you like.

That apparently is my major crux. I don't really like what PeppA and her Mom like. At first, I was putting up with it, and forcing myself to eat stuff that I just wasn't happy with. Now, however, I've reached my limit, and would just rather not eat at all instead of eating something that looks like a large mass of scrambled eggs in water.

I apologize to everyone, as I should have posted this on the "Venting" thread.
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Old 12-27-2005, 12:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenMI
One question: Do you think I could substitute store-bought, frozen, Spatzle for the rivels?
Sorry I didn't get bsck to this sooner! Yes, I think you could--they'll just be a bit bigger than rivels.
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Old 12-27-2005, 07:27 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenMI
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.
Allen - I think you are so right - PA Dutch Food doesn't have a lot of seasonings. Are you all familiar with PA Dutch Chicken Pot Pie? Chicken broth, potatoes, saffron, home made "pot pie squares", cut up cooked chicken & not much else. I love it! Total comfort food.
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Old 01-06-2006, 06:30 PM   #17
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I am at this thread!

Yep - I live close enough to Lancaster that we visit quite often and there is an Amish run Farmers Market in my home town. THe chicken corn soup and pot pie are just like Corinne describes.

I think it may be one of those things you grew up with because I always have the urge to mention to the people who work there that both would be much better with a healthy dose of onion, garlic, etc etc etc.

Nevertheless, I do like creamy corn chowder and pot pie with lots of seasoning and veggies and none of those square pasta-y things!

Definitely a case of different strokes..... and Corinne, I will be in Newport next month, if you would like me to bring a "care package" to drop off for you I will!

Alexa

Who - calls all sorts of things "chowda" ... must have something to do with growing up in Maine!
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Old 01-06-2006, 08:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caliloo
I am at this thread!

Definitely a case of different strokes..... and Corinne, I will be in Newport next month, if you would like me to bring a "care package" to drop off for you I will!
Alexa, How sweet are you? I believe I will take you up on your offer if it's not to inconvenient for you. Hubby or I can meet you near one of the RT 95 exits on your way thru. (I assume you will take 95 to get up here.)

I'll be looking for things like:
Sweet Bologna (sliced)
Unique Splits Pretzels
Cope's dried corn (canned)
TastyKake TastyKlairs

That's just right off the top of my head. PABaker, what have I missed?


Alexa, would you like to email me at
corinne@macrobyte.net & we can figure out the details?

Thank you so much!!! Everyone always says how great DC people - I'm gonna have to jump on that bandwagon!
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Old 01-06-2006, 10:24 PM   #19
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Corrine, I'm not PA Baker, but do you eat butcher bologna, hog maw or scrapple? Pepper cabbage or chow chow?You might want to buy a meat slicer (I got a cheap one at Harbor Freight tools). Unless you like you sweet bologna very thin, you could use one of those to slice off what you need off the piece as you need it. Depending on your favorite brand, some like Baum's, Kunzler's, and Seltzer's come vacuum sealed (still needs refrigeration). If you are interested in getting that much, I could check how much a whole piece weighs since I work in a Weis Markets deli part-time.
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Old 01-07-2006, 11:17 AM   #20
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I have top chime in on this one also, though I'm not familiar with this particular soup. But I am familiar with Chowders. And yes, the term chowder was derived from the French word, chaudiere, which means cauldron. These pots wer used not only for teh chunky soup mixtures, but also for stew, and pottages as well. There is really little difference between stew and chowders. There are many recipes that are interchangably reffered to as stew or chowder, depending on who you talk to. The meaning has been blurred. Also, Chowders don't have to be creamy, but can be broth based, such as Manhattan-style Clam Chowder. The famous Native American Corn Soup is actually a chowder as well.

The classic chowder contains chunks of protein and vegetables, usually combined with a starch such as corn, ribbles, potato, etc. I have to think that whether or not a chowder contained seafood depended on where the dish was being made. Certainly, if the dish was prepared in any of the seashore towns of France, they would have included things from the sea. But France is a large country. I would think that inland areas would have used chicken, pork, and game in there versions as seafood wasn't as easily obtained.

And the "Dutch" in Pensylvania Dutch comes from the Germanic settlers of the region, the Doitche. Locals had a hard time pronouncing the German name by which they called themselves and so it became known as Dutch.

Oh, and just so I don't seem ungrateful, the soup recipes on this thread look very good. I will be trying them and have copied some to the appropriate folder on my PC. Thanks.

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