Chow Chow: Sunshine on a Subzero Day

By

Caroline Hatchett
Parisian Gnocchi, Grilled Red Cabbage Kraut, Sweet Chowchow, Roasted Mushrooms, and Crème Fraîche
Parisian Gnocchi, Grilled Red Cabbage Kraut, Sweet Chowchow, Roasted Mushrooms, and Crème Fraîche

Hate to be a downer, but fast forward a few months and Chicago will be a virtual tundra. Again. Lucky for diners at Perennial Virant, Chef Edward Sura is a Paul Virant protegée with a penchant for capturing summer in his put-by pantry. Even with inches of snow on the ground, his dishes get a hit of sunshine from any number of pickles and fermented goods. Take his Parisian gnocchi with grilled red cabbage kraut, roasted mushrooms, crème fraîche, and sweet corn chow chow—the last of which is a mustard-based Southern condiment that’s wiggled its way into modern Midwestern cooking. In the gnocchi, it’s sweet-vinegary promise of the better times to come. This corn season, while most chefs are shucking and blanching, Sura will be prepping for the deep, white winter. Here’s his game plan, adapted from Virant’s Preservation Kitchen.

Sweet Corn Chow Chow | Yield: 1 quart

1. In a large pot, combine 15 ounces sweet corn kernels, 2 ounces diced sweet onion, 1 ounce diced sweet pepper, 2 ounces toasted black mustard seeds, 2 ounces toasted tan mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 4 grams kosher salt, 17 grams brown sugar, 1 cup water, and ½ cup (or 6 percent by volume) Champagne vinegar.
2. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat.
3. Transfer to hotel pans to cool.
4. Store in cooler or can in Mason jars. 

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