Silvano Perez’s Chicken Pot Pie
Nestled in South Central Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Dutch are a long-lasting culture with foods to reflect their uniqueness.
Here are five dishes that originated from the Pennsylvania Dutch culture and are common finds around the holiday season.
Potato filling is the stepchild of mashed potatoes and stuffing. The dish combines mashed potato with bread, onions and celery, prepared as a casserole side dish or as a stuffing for meat.
Up until more recently, potatoes have been a big industry for Pennsylvania agriculture, leaving little surprise behind why filling became a popular dish in the Pennsylvania Dutch culture. Padutchcompanion.com says the dish is typically reserved for holidays, though, because of the time it takes to prepare compared to other potato dishes.
Chow chow or piccalilli is a pickled relish made from an assortment of vegetables and beans. The concoction is served year-round as a side or as a topping, but its title of being a Pennsylvania Dutch favorite has earned it a spot at the holiday table.
Chow chow epitomizes the Pennsylvania Dutch’s desire to waste nothing, and it allows for a way to store vegetables that otherwise wouldn’t be available in the cold-weather months.
Apple dumplings — a delectable apple pastry, made from peeled, cored and seasoned apples wrapped in a flaky dough shell, covered in a sweet syrup and baked — have tremendous popularity across the U.S. but are Pennsylvania Dutch in origin. Though the holidays undoubtedly have a wide array of desserts, apple dumplings are one of the more recent favorites added to a Pennsylvania Dutch holiday alongside the also recent shoofly pie and the traditional cobblers and mince meat pies.
Though as a dessert they are often served with ice cream, apple dumplings are also a common breakfast food.
Pennsylvania ranks fourth across the U.S. for apple production, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, possibly explaining the popularity of the dish. It hasn’t stayed exclusive to Pennsylvania with many written accounts of apple dumplings existing around the globe.
The apple pastry has become so popular that is has a national day of its own in America, Sept. 17.
Silvano Perez’s Chicken Pot Pie
While not necessarily a holiday dish, chicken pot pie is a wonderful meal for the cold weather months. It is common across America, but Pennsylvania Dutch chicken pot pie differs from the meat pie that many associate with the name since in Pennsylvania it takes on a form more closely associated with soup.
The ingredients are much the same — vegetables and chicken — but the dish with Lancaster County origins is made in a stock pot with large, doughy square egg noodles instead of a pie crust.
To make a full meal, the Pennsylvania Dutch often serve pot pie with a side of hot bacon dressing — a thick dressing made with milk, vinegar, sugar, salt, onion, eggs, flour and, of course, bacon — over greens. The popular dressing doesn’t need to be reserved for pot pie meals, though, and is common served over greens at the holidays.
The Pennsylvania Dutch’s New Year’s Day meal of pork and sauerkraut means the end of the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without the smelly cabbage.
Sauerkraut, a word that translates to sour cabbage, is finely cut, fermented cabbage. The food joined the German table in the 1600s, but cabbage was first fermented in China, according to germanfoods.org.
The site goes on to explain that the Chinese ferment their cabbage in rice wine, so sauerkraut as known to Pennsylvania did originate in Europe when they started fermenting cabbage with the vegetable’s own juice.
Sauerkraut is often used as a side, as a topping — often seen on hot dogs or pork — or as an ingredient, such as in soup. Interested in making your own? Check out Lancaster Farming’s own Eric Hurlock’s recipe below.
Here’s a crash course in making delicious fresh sauerkraut. The art of fermentation is alive in your kitchen. All you need is a cabbage, some salt, a knife, a jar, and maybe some caraway seeds, if that’s what you’re into.

Like many food staples, turkey prices are expected to be higher this year due to inflation. But the bigger story may be the potential for spot shortages due to highly pathogenic avian influenza affecting turkey farms all throughout the U.S.

Is it tradition or superstition? Eating pork and sauerkraut is a New Year’s staple in many Pennsylvania homes, dating back to the arrival of the European immigrants here in the 1600s.

A recipe for homemade apple dumplings.
Markets Editor
Rebecca Schweitzer is the markets editor at Lancaster Farming. She can be reached at rschweitzer@lancasterfarming.com
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