PA Dutch holiday foods – this time of year it doesn’t take much to get Steve Stetzler talking about holiday memories surrounding PA Dutch foods.
“On Christmas Eve, we’d always have pig stomach at grandma’s house,” says Stetzler, chef, and owner at the Deitsch Eck Restaurant at 87 Penn St., Lenhartsville. “She’d put in it in a browning bag, and I can remember one year I ate so much my own stomach hurt.”
Pig stomach is purely Pennsylvania Dutch, a dish that might make some squeal but one that should be tried at least once, like scrapple. There’s no standard recipe, but cooks throughout Pennsylvania’s Americana Region traditionally stuff a cleaned and sometimes brined pig stomach with cubed potatoes, vegetables, and sausage and bake it until crispy and golden brown.
It’s a symbol of PA Dutch thrift — no morsel goes to waste — and is almost always served for large family gatherings because a fresh pig stomach can be easily stretched to accommodate lots of tasty filling. In some ways, it’s the Pennsylvania Dutch version of haggis. Stetzler says he recalls how his grandmother would stuff her pig stomachs with spare ribs and smoked and fresh sausage along with celery, carrots, and potatoes.
On Christmas Day, Stetzler, who grew up not far from the Deitsch Eck, remembers how the eating would continue with family and friends at his parents’ house. “Potato filling, ham, turkey, homemade bread and lots of sides — pepper cabbage, chow-chow and homemade pies and cakes,” he says. “It was always about the sides, the more the better.”
If you’re savoring a taste of PA Dutch cuisine for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but may have misplaced old family recipe cards, no worries. Stetzler and his staff at Deitsch Eck can help outfit your holiday table in authentic Pennsylvania Americana Region style. More than 30 varieties of pies are available for order, including traditional apple, lemon sponge, and walnut molasses.
And there are the savory sides — cole slaw, pepper cabbage, chow chow, red beet eggs, potato filling, and hot bacon dressing. All of it is lovingly homemade and based on Stetzler’s family recipes.
Stetzler and his crew made about 175 pies last year and about 200 pounds of potato filling. While it’s too late to order these holiday favorites for this holiday season, keep Deitsch Eck in mind for next year. In the meantime, visit Steve and his crew to enjoy a delicious PA Dutch dinner soon.