Hot Ring Bologna with Chow Chow

One of the most beloved foods my mom ate during her trips to visit her grandmother in Salona, Pennsylvania was hot ring bologna.

Every nook and cranny in this world has its version of a salty, cured and freaky-good processed meat product. This one, pictured below, is what you’ll find in gas stations, butcher shops, and mom and pop shops across Western Pennsylvania. Unless you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’d be a clown not to try it.

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I’m a vocal fan of processed meats. Hot dogs, Spam, Slim Jims, really – any meat in a can or a forced into an unnatural round or square shape will do it for me.

Not that I don’t love real-deal proteins, like a just-arrived-from-New-Zealand, gore-y rack of lamb. That undeniably delicious – read: salty & fatty flavor – and my total ambivalence over what part of the animal I’m eating inevitably draws me to tubular shaped foods like ring bologna.

I asked her how she ate this – imagining a very specific cooking process, or maybe a go-to sandwich on a very specific bun with very specific toppings. It turns out, they just ate it. They’d cut it into pieces and eat it cold. It’s cooked & cured to hell and back, so there’s no need to complicate things.

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But I like to complicate things. I wanted to get it sizzly, and render some of that fat, and serve it family-style right out of the pan for swift ingestion. So that’s what I did. Topped with local Chow Chow, which is a spicy, pickled garden vegetable medley you’ll find in Centre County where my family hails from, I can’t think of a dish that sums up eating in that part of the country better. Serve it with a German-inspired whole grain mustard sauce with two ingredients – mustard & some sour cream, for an added Oktoberfest vibe.

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Eat a whoopie pie afterward, and you’re really indulging like a Western Pennsylvania native.

Too bad for us because I’d, predictably, already eaten all the whoopie pies.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 – 3 as an appetizer.

          1 hot ring bologna, brand of your choosing

          4 – 6 tablespoons Chow Chow, brand of your choosing

          1 / 4 cup whole grain mustard

          1 / 4 cup sour cream

D I R E C T I O N S

1.       Combine the whole grain mustard and sour cream. Set aside.

2.       Cut the ring bologna into 1 / 2 inch slices, on the diagonal. Remove the outer casing.

3.       Heat a skillet on high, add the bologna, and render the fat in the skillet, cooking on medium-high for 8 minutes or so.

4.       Remove from the heat, top with the Chow Chow, and serve alongside the mustard sauce, or pour dollops on top of the bologna and Chow Chow. Serve hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potato Chips with Caviar & Herb Dip

Caviar screams New Years Eve to me. More than champagne. More than black sequin dresses and New Years Eve horns.

I wish I knew more about the applications for caviar in cooking. But what I do know, is that I love the pop-in-your-mouth texture and how it tastes exactly like the sea. And man, talk about pretty.

In my food world, caviar is a special occasion-worthy indulgence if there ever was one. It goes super well paired with an over-the-top crème fraiche sauce. Potato chips are the perfect vehicle – crispy, salty and not too bulky.

And when it comes to preparing a dish with caviar, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Look at any recipe that features caviar, and you’ll find it consistently accompanied by the same flavor profiles – think chives, smoked salmon, lemon, egg yolk, all on a crunchy, carby vehicle.

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Ina Garten published several caviar and egg roe recipes that will blow your socks off. I have her to thank for introducing me to the world of caviar in cooking. I’ve made her Caviar Dip with salmon roe, Lemon Capellini with Caviar and Blini with Smoked Salmon.

The image that pops into your head when you think of caviar is likely the Beluga variety – black-colored, small beads. It’s generally the most costly if you’re in the market for caviar. For a pound of the stuff, you’re talking $3,000 to $4,000. Good thing we don’t need to eat caviar by the ladleful to get the full caviar experience. For weeknight eating, there’s also the more affordable salmon roe caviar, which gives you the same fishy, salty punch for a lot less dough.

Luckily, we live in a food-obsessed world. There’s someone who lives near the Caspian Sea whose job is to procure fish eggs, pasteurize them, package them, and ship them around the world. Directly to my local Whole Foods.

On an average shopping day, it’s admittedly tempting every time I go by the fish aisle to pass it up. But I’ve been so good this year. So I let myself slip into the splurge.

If you don’t love caviar, this could very well change your mind. May your 2019 be caviar-filled all year round. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 2 oz. caviar, of your choosing
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish, if desired

F o r  t h e  P o t a t o  C h i p s

  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato
  • 4 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

F o r  t h e  D i p

  • 1 cup crème fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dill, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 / 2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Slice the potato with a mandoline, placing the slices in a large bowl filled with water. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the potato slices from the water, and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
  2. Heat the canola or vegetable oil in a large shallow pan. To test the oil, put a slice of the potato in the oil. When it bubbles and starts to fry, add the rest of the potato slices.
  3. Fry on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the chips are golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels, and sprinkle immediately with salt.
  4. In the meantime, combine the dip ingredients in a bowl. Stir until incorporated. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
  5. To assemble the appetizer, place a small spoonful of the sauce on a chip, top with a 1 / 4 to 1 / 2 teaspoon of caviar, and top with a sprig of parsley, if desired. Arrange on a serving plate. Serve room temperature.