When I worked on my family history, I was surprised to find out how many Pennsylvania Dutch & Amish ancestors I had. Of course, those ancestors multiply quickly as you work back. You start with 4 grandparents, then 8 great, then 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and by the time you get back a few more generations you realize that you’re related to half the people in the US! Our good neighbor in South Dakota was a 9th cousin! Hi Auntie Mary! But what I’m getting at I’m wondering if I have a predisposition for the sweet/sour flavors so often found in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, and especially this Pennsylvania Dutch Broccoli & Bacon? Is there a gene for that?
I just love Pennsylvania Dutch Broccoli & Bacon! It’s maybe not a surprise that I like this warmer, wintery version of Broccoli with Bacon and a Warm Bacon Dressing. I love Crazy Broccoli Salad (that old salad that has broccoli, bacon, raisins, and cashews) and I love The Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, too. Oh, and let’s not forget Hot German Potato Salad. Ok, so maybe there’s nothing to that ancestry stuff or some kind of secret food gene and maybe I just love bacon, and I think I’m not alone.
About Pennsylvania Dutch Broccoli & Bacon:
I’m always looking for a “new” way to cook broccoli. It’s such an inexpensive, common, everyday veggie and sometimes I don’t think it gets the love it deserves. And broccoli is good for you, too! The World’s Healthiest Foods say that the optimal amount to eat from the cruciferous veggies is 1 1/2 cups and broccoli is probably the easiest cruciferous veggie to get the kiddos to eat. They also say that some of the nutrients are maximized if the broccoli sits for a few minutes before being lightly steamed.
I was inspired to make Pennsylvania Dutch Broccoli & Bacon by a recipe I saw online, Pennsylvania German Style Broccoli from the Add A Pinch Club. For some reason, I can’t link to it, but if you’re interested, it comes up in google. That recipe, for me, was a little hardcore, heavy on the mustard but I so wanted to love it so I reworked it a bit. Well, a lot, lol!
But I kept everything I loved about that recipe. The broccoli, the bacon and the idea of a mustardy sweet-sour vinaigrette poured over the warm broccoli and crunchy bell pepper. It’s like a warm salad for a cold, wintery day…Pennsylvania Dutch Broccoli & Bacon is really just the thing to serve in the fall along with sausages or bratwurst when you want something as a side to complement but still hold up to the warm flavors and spicing of the sausage. It’s such a nice option during the time of year when potato salad seems out of place and cole-slaw seems to summery.
Making Pennsylvania Dutch Broccoli & Bacon:
This is an easy and straightforward recipe. Do watch the bacon drippings in the pan while cooking the onion; better to have that onion a bit crispy than to let the drippings, which are the base for the vinaigrette to darken too much.
As far as dressings go, this is heavy on the vinegar. Depending on your personal taste, you might want to use less vinegar. You can start out with about 1/3 a cup if you’d like and then increase to a half. Stand back when that vinegar is added. It gets fumy when it goes in that hot pan!
Saving Money on Pennsylvania Dutch Broccoli & Bacon:
Watch for sales prices on the broccoli and pick up at a low. Broccoli will last several days, maybe even a week or so if it’s not stuck in a bag with condensation. Put your broccoli in the fridge and check it after it’s cold. If there’s condensation, just turn the bag inside out and put the broccoli back in, making sure it’s not tightly closed up.
Bacon is a great item to pick up during any holiday when it’s normally on sale. Since it takes so little room to store, toss it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. When making recipes like this you can take your bacon out of the freezer and set it on the counter as you ready the rest of the ingredients. By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to just slice right through the bacon, package and all and then just toss it in a Ziploc and toss back in the freezer.
I watch for sale prices on bell peppers and if the colored ones are too pricey, I just use the plain old green ones. Because they’re sturdy, bell peppers keep for a week or two. When they’re on sale, buy extra, enough to get through the week and into the next.
Pennsylvania Dutch Broccoli & Bacon
- 4 slices bacon, chopped and fried, bacon reserved and drippings kept in the pan
- 1 head broccoli, stems cut about 3/8ths inch on the diagonal, florets about an inch across, stems and florets kept separately
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut in 3/4″ dice
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- about 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard, optional
- 2 tablespoons oil
In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels, crumble and set aside. Pour off all but three tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan or if there isn’t enough, add enough oil to make three tablespoons, set the pan aside.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces as directed. Add the stems to the bottom of a large pan with water to almost cover. Steam for two to three minutes. Add the broccoli florets and steam, covered, an additional four to five minutes until they are tender but still have a little crispness. Drain and add to the serving bowl along with the bell pepper.
Add the onion to the bacon fat in the skillet over medium heat, and cook for a few minutes to slightly soften. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, mustard powder, and the grainy mustard, if using. Stand back! Cook to heat through, stirring constantly to scrape up the pan drippings. Remove from the heat and stir in the additional two tablespoons oil. Pour the hot dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine.
Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the broccoli and serve.
Note: Taste and adjust the dressing and be careful with the grainy mustard. Some are very strong and can dominate your dish.
adapted from Just a Pinch