Cauliflower-Bell Pepper Chowchow

July 19, 2007


Chowchow is chopped vegetables pickled in mustard sauce. The word comes from the Mandarin word ‘chao,’ to stir-fry. You can make it out of anything from onions and summer squash to sweet corn and green tomatoes. This cauliflower-bell pepper version is the best I’ve ever eaten. Spoon it on baked beans or any kind of dried beans. It’s also great with curries and chicken. SAM

4 teaspoons salt, divided
Water for boiling
1 small cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets (4 cups)
3 large green bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (3 cups)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1 large onion, diced (1 cup)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar, divided
4 1-pint canning jars with lids

The first day: Fill a large kettle 3/4 full of water, add 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Blanch the cauliflower, peppers, and onion by dipping in the boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain the vegetables, place them in a cloth bag, and hang them outside or over a sink or tub to drip overnight.

The second day: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 3 teaspoons salt, flour, mustard, turmeric, celery seed, sugar, and 1 cup vinegar. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the remaining 2 cups vinegar and cook until thick and smooth. Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water and spoon in the drained vegetables, leaving 1 inch of headroom. Cover with the mustard sauce, screw on the lids, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Makes 4 pints.

COOKING TIP: Chowchow Prep

July 19, 2007

Hanging chowchow overnight in a cloth bag sounds weird, but it’s a very important step. The weight of the vegetables forces out the bitter juices, leaving the chowchow sweet. Southern cooks used to hang their chowchow in an old pillowcase on the clothesline. If you don’t have an old pillowcase, use a very, very fine sieve.