Friday, February 22, 2013

Western PA Ethnic Cooking – Part 1 - German

Western PA Ethnic Cooking – Part 1 - German

Western PA had at least 12 major countries whose citizens who immigrated to the area from the 1700’s to the 1960’s.  There were the following: (approximate dates)

  • Germans                                               1700-1900
  • Scotch-Irish and Irish                            1700-1850
  • Russians                                               1872-1900
  • Hungarians                                           1900-1930
  • African-Americans                                1910-1930 & post WW II
  • Ukranians                                             1870-1930
  • Macedonians                                        pre WW II
  • Bulgarians                                             1900-1915
  • Slovaks                                                1890-1950
  • Italians                                                  1880-1900+
  • Polish                                                   1870-1970
  • Jewish                                                  1840-1930

WOW, with all those immigrants settling in the western PA area there is a plethora of different ethnic dishes and cooking styles.  My heritage is German, Scotch-Irish and Welsh with probably some PA Dutch mixed in there. I have lived in Western PA from birth date to 1990 when I immigrated to North Carolina where I currently reside.  Getting used to Southern Food was quite a trip. Not as much variety here except some of the restaurants are bringing in more ethnic food. 

I grew up on German, Scotch-Irish and Irish, Russian, Ukranian, Bulgarian, Slovakian and Italian dishes. Many of the local churches, synagogues and other religious institutions sold dishes to the public from their kitchens.  Nothing better than fresh perogies (other spellings) on a Friday night!!

I will start with the German food first.  (AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I HAD A CHANCE TO LIVE IN GERMANY IN THE 1960’S FOR A YEAR; LOTS OF GOOD FOOD & WINE AND BEER). I have included links for modern day recipes on the internet that are as close as I can get to the original recipes.


Settlers were Bavarian, Mennonites (my dad always talked about our Mennonite background when some of them fled to Canada so they wouldn’t have to fight in wars for the US), Tunkers, Schwenkfelders and then Lutherans.

Famous Germans: Buhl of Buhl Planetarium, Henry Frick, Charles Schwab (Carnegie Steel) among others.



Sauerbraten (sour meat)
Here is what Wiki has to say about Sauerbraten

Below are links for modern day sauerbraten recipes.  I have my own personal recipe which I think is better than any of these. (AUTHOR’S NOTE:  The majority of the recipes do not marinate in the refrigerator long enough. I marinate mine from 7-10 days. One of the recipes I ran across said that you are to turn the hunk of meat with a fork.  NO NO NO!! That taints the meat and throws a vinegar taste into the meat. Do not pierce the meat with a fork. Use a wooden spoon and turn twice a day.  Don’t use foil on the top but use plastic wrap.  Don’t use an aluminum pan or other type of pan.  I use a Corning ceramic dish so that there is no flavor that will interfere with the authentic taste.  If you don’t have juniper berries that you can buy in spice section of store throw in a little gin.  Gin is made from juniper berries. Some recipes show very dark meat almost black but that is not true sauerbraten.  My recipes does not contain raisins.  Since I had sauerbraten more than once in Germany I feel I can speak to the recipe as an expert. )

Links for Sauerbraten recipes: (Kate)

I serve mine with cooked sweet and sour red cabbage & apples, with boiled red potatoes & butter, German rye or pumpernickel bread and a German Riesling or German beer. 



Potato Pancakes

Pork Chops in Sour Cream

(Had this dish in Germany prepared by a German neighbor the first time. Loved it!!)


Ginger Cookies

(Forerunner of modern ginger snaps but these are supposed to be soft and they included raisins and nuts.)



No comments:

Post a Comment