Delicious Pennsylvania Dutch Meat Recipes
Pork and Ham Recipes
To the Pennsylvania
German, meat is a preference in their diet. During the
pioneer days, rabbit, wild fowl, and venison were parts of the
foods. In those days, they could not afford to butcher their
cattle. Before their swine could eat their grains, to keep them
alive, they let them forge through the forest of Pennsylvania.
However, this made their meat very tough and stringy.
They had to neutralize both wild and near wild
meat with onions and used their spiced vinegar to tenderize it.
Importantly cattle were important to the
Pennsylvania German farmer. The barn became the first major
structure built on the farm. Cattle represented nourishment and
Some of the old sayings included:
Cattle could become homesick - therefore
you must not let the calf see where it is going after being
you buy or sell. It will return to its former home unless its
eyes were covered.
You must keep the cow from knowing that you
are taking her calf away. It would best to cover her eyes.
You must leave hay must outside the barn on
Christmas Eve, so that the dew of the Holy Evening could fall
upon it and bless it.
Each farmer tries to be the first in the
neighborhood to feed his stock on New Year's Eve. If he
succeeded, he will be rewarded with sleek, healthy cattle.
He knows that the animals in the stable
talk aloud during the last hour on Christmas Eve.
He knows that the water in his well turned
to wine for the same period.
They set the first Friday of the new moon was
set aside as butchering day. It keeps everyone busy from dawn to
dark. The farm becomes a factory, and as on a belt, roasts,
steaks, chops, liverwurst, sausage, bologna, scrapple, head
cheese, pickles pigs� feet, and the like rolled off the farm
Butchering meant more than food. It was lard,
tallow, hides, and soap. What satisfaction the creation of these
solid white squares must have given the early farm wife who kept
the soap kettle always ready in the yard!
At any rate, the butchering proceeds through the
making of brine and the preparations for smoking certain of the
meats. Hams are smoked and side of bacon, beef tongues, some
sausage and bologna are prepared.
After their immersion in the brine, they hand
the hams from hooks in the smokehouse ceiling. A fire of green
wood burns slowly in the fireplace and is replenished to keep
the same even temperature. Time passes, and gradually the
mingled odor of hickory smoke and meat delights to come pervade
Since the smoking process goes on for days upon
days and they repeat it year after year, smokehouse wall have a
way of acquiring a patent-leather patina as anyone who has ever
been inside a smokehouse remembers. The aroma lingers long in
the solid walls, and even an abandoned smokehouse retains some
of it. A smokehouse can be a nostalgic sort of place!