Paul Fehribach once told me my piccalilli was the best he had ever had. He was at my house on pig butchering day and we were frying up a “butcher’s treat,” a little nugget of meat hidden somewhere, I don’t remember precisely where, and while it is big enough for a proper Scooby Snack, it isn’t really big enough to be noticeable amidst a whole pig’s worth of meat.
Well, we all know that a little fry of pork is best accompanied by some sort of corn griddle cake and some piccalilli. Thankfully, I had some of the latter in the larder and, well, I figured Paul could make us some jonnycakes.
His response was precisely why one loves Paul Fehribach, and it began, “well, historically jonnycakes are made with the sifted leavings of grits … ” or something. We cut him off because had we let him continue, well, he’s the type to go searching for a hand-crank stone mill to coarse-grind the precise variety of corn needed for a proper grit, which he would sift and only then begin to make us the jonnycakes.
With that kind of passion and precision, you can imagine why I was floored when he lauded my little jar of relish.
This recipe was adapted from the book Home, by David Page and Barbara Shinn. The recipe belonged to Barbara’s Grandmother McCall. There are a lot of really good recipes in this book and in fact their strawberry jam is, to my mind, the best around.
- I hate green bell pepper, enough that sometimes I sub in half yellow for half the green. But seriously, you could use green bell pepper here. It is maybe the only place you can use green bell pepper.
- This is one instance where I would go buy celery seed. It uses enough that you won’t have any left over. In fact, if you buy a jar, just use the jar and don’t measure. It’s fine.
10 red bell peppers, chopped finely
10 green bell peppers, chopped finely
10 yellow onions, chopped finely
1 small green cabbage, chopped finely
4 cups apple cider vinegar
4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons celery seed
4 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
- Place vegetables in a bowl and cover liberally with salt. Pour over boiling water to cover and let stand 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, drain vegetables and press out liquid.
- Transfer all to pot and add vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard seed. Bring to a boil and cook 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
- Leave on pantry shelf for a year. By which I mean do not eat it for a year. Yes — A. Year.
- As foundation for a vinaigrette for a porky sandwich.
- Dolloped on a pork “butcher’s cut” and accompanied by jonnycakes, authentic or not.
- As a topping for broiled chicken or whitefish.