~ Nana's "Overnight" PA Deutsch Pepper Cabbage ~
From the land of Longhorn-colby cheese and ring bologna, I bring you pepper cabbage. If you identify with both the cheese and the bologna, you have roots in or some sort of affiliation with the Pennsylvania Deutsch community, and you don't have to be told: do not over-think this or any pepper cabbage recipe. It is simple, to the point, and, monochromatic (a big word meaning "consisting of one color or hue"): finely-chopped green cabbage and green pepper, tossed in a sweet and sour, sugar, vinegar and black-pepper-laced dressing, then macerated overnight in the refrigerator. As the name indicates, it's a mixture of cabbage and peppers, and, while some add a bit of celery or onion to it, Nana did not, and, she disapproved of adding red bell peppers and/or colorful carrots too. Period. Nana was Pennsylvania Deutsch and this is her recipe.
You say Pennsylvania Dutch, We say Pennsylvania Deutsch!
I am here to make it clear that Pennsylvania Dutch-style cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch either. The term "Dutch" was the early English settlers slang for the German word "Deutsch". So: When most people incorrectly say "Pennsylvania Dutch", they should be saying "Pennsylvania Deutsch", crediting the Germanic or German speaking immigrants from Germany and Switzerland for this cuisine. The majority of these people were either Amish, Mennonite or Brethren, all of which were considered "Anabaptist". They were fleeing the mountains of Switzerland and southern German to avoid religious persecution and established several communities in the Lehigh Valley. Why? Thank William Penn for his free-thinking, open-door, equal-opportunity-for-all of any religion or race politics. Pennsylvania set an example for the other colonies, who all had established an offical "state" religion. Pennsylvania. The first to welcome people of all beliefs and walks of life? You betcha!
There is no in between -- finely-chopped, almost minced -- it's the key to this cold, crunchy, addictive side-salad. If you have a food processor, you can do this in minutes, but you can't do either vegetable in one big batch or you will end up with watery mush. Instead, process each one in small batches that require as few rapid on-off pulses, as necessary, to get them finely-chopped, then, place each of the finely-chopped veggies on a paper-towel lined plate for about an hour in the refrigerator, to allow the paper to absorb excess moisture from the vegetables.
1 head green cabbage, as close to 2 pounds as possible, cored and coarsely chopped (about 8 cups finely-chopped cabbage)
2 large green peppers, as close to 1 total pound as possible, coarsely chopped, seeded and ribbed (about 2 cups finely-chopped green bell pepper)
Tip from Mel: If you have a kitchen scale, use it. Weighing the cabbage and peppers makes this recipe virtually foolproof.
~Step 1. Cut the cabbage into 4 quarters, remove the core from each quarter, then coarsely chop each quarter. Working in 4 batches, place one quarter of the coarsely-chopped cabbage in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Using a series of 30 rapid on-off pulses, process to a fine chop. Transfer cabbage to a large baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper and a few layers of paper towels and refrigerate for about an hour.
~ Step 2. Prep the green bell peppers as directed, and, in two batches, using a series of 15 rapid on-off pulses, process them to a fine chop too. Place chopped peppers on a paper towel lined plate and refrigerate for about an hour.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon celery seed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
~ Step 1. Place the cabbage and peppers in a large bowl. In a 1-quart measuring container, measure and stir all of the dressing ingredients together.
~ Step 2. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and green peppers, and, using a large spoon or rubber spatula, give it a thorough stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate, several hours or overnight, taking the time to give it a stir whenever it's convenient. Overnight is best.
Beware: This super-simple super-side-salad is super-addictive!
Nana's "Overnight" PA Deutsch Pepper Cabbage: Recipe yields about 10 cups. If you were buying this by the pound at your local deli, which is how it is sold in a lot of stores, you would be purchasing 2, 1 pound, 12 ounce containers of pepper cabbage.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; kitchen scale (optional); food processor (optional); 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; paper towels; 1-quart measuring container, spoon; large spoon or rubber spatula; plastic wrap
Cook's Note: Way back when I was eighteen, Nana was my fiance's grandmother, and, she was as PA Deutsch as it gets. She was a marvelous cook, baker and cross-stitcher, and, she taught me how to make many wonderful things, including: ~ Nana's Bare Bones PA Deutsch Chicken Pot Pie ~. It's in Categories 2 & 3.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)