Comfortable Penn Dutch Style Food!
Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine is good simple food. No wine or liquors are used and no spicy flavors are featured. Very few herbs are used and local farm food is usually featured on its own.
Broccoli Rabe is not a traditional Penn Dutch country vegetable. In recent years, broccoli rabe has been in demand and farmers do like to meet those demands buy growing this vegetable for income. Pennsylvania Dutch farmers are adept at marketing high quality farm fresh vegetables that are in demand.
While I was visiting back east, the family occasionally took a Sunday drive and stopping at a roadside farm stand was par for the course. On one such excursion, I saw broccoli rabe for sale at a local roadside farm stand out towards Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I could not help but to overhear a few comments from some of the local shoppers about how the broccoli rabe looked like the scrawniest ugliest broccoli that they had ever seen. Rightly so! The first time that I saw broccoli rabe, I thought the same thing.
Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant food is made with simple cooking techniques. Vegetables are usually boiled or simmered, but they are not cooked beyond the point of recognition. The vegetables are always tender and full of color. Penn Dutch style veggies are never cooked al dente.
The broccoli rabe for today's recipe is cooked with a simple technique that takes some of the bitterness out. Those who dislike broccoli rabe because of the bitter flavor just might find it palatable. The simmered broccoli rabe has a mild flavor that compares to boiled turnip greens.
The Chicken Milk Sauce is the same thing as a chicken gravy (chicken veloute) with milk and cream added. I do say milk and cream for a reason. Old fashioned milk jugs used to contain both milk and cream. In the old days, cooks used the entire contents of a milk jug when making a recipe.
Anyway, today's Penn Dutch style recipe may seem fairly bland, but a simple flavored meal can be quite appealing after a stress filled day in the big city. Throw some Penn Dutch egg noodles in the mix and this simple broccoli rabe recipe becomes a comfortable hearty and filling healthy meal.
Chicken Milk Gravy:
This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups of thin milk gravy.
Step 1: Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
Add 1 cup of light chicken broth.
Add 1/2 cup of milk.
Add 2 tablespoons of cream.
Stir the sauce occasionally as it comes to a very gently boil.
Step 2: Combine 1 tablespoon of flour with 1/4 cup of water to make a slurry.
Add the slurry to the sauce while stirring with a whisk.
Stir till the sauce thickens to a very thin soupy consistency.
Step 3: Add 1 small pinch of ground sage.
Add 1 tiny pinch of nutmeg.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Step 4: Simmer and reduce the gravy, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency. The volume should be about 1 1/4 cups of sauce after reducing.
Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Pennsylvania Dutch Style Broccoli Rabe:
This recipe yields 1 portion.
Step 1: Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
Add 3 cups of water.
Bring the water to a gentle boil.
Step 2: Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
Add 1/4 cup of thick sliced carrot dimes.
Add 1/4 cup of small bite size pieces of celery.
Add 1 1/2 cups of large bite size pieces of broccoli rabe.
Step 3: Gently boil till the vegetables are tender, but not mushy and so they still have a nice color.
Step 4: Drain the water off of the vegetables.
Add the vegetables to the chicken milk gravy.
Keep the gravy and vegetables warm over very low heat.
Penn Dutch Egg Noodles with Chicken Milk Gravy and Broccoli Rabe:
This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
Do not ask me why, because I do not know.
Step 1: Cook 1 large portion of Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Noodles in boiling water, till they are tender.
Drain the water off the egg noodles.
Step 2: Place the noodles in a shallow stew bowl.
Pour the chicken milk gravy, broccoli rabe and vegetables on the center of the noodles and let the thin chicken milk gravy settle underneath the bare egg noodles.
No garnish is necessary!
The chicken milk gravy helps to tame the bitter flavor of broccoli rabe and it creates an interesting mellow flavor.