When we spend time in Asheville, NC one of our favorite places to visit is Tupelo Honey Cafe. Their cookbook Tupelo Honey Cafe Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New Southern Kitchen, which was published last year, is probably one of my top 3 favorite cookbooks. Their food is so right up my alley. Creative and modern food rooted in the past, made using fresh ingredients and a southern flair.
This Reuben sandwich with ChowChow from the cookbook is a prime example of taking a traditional dish and putting a Tupelo Honey spin on it by substituting sauerkraut with chowchow.
Those outside of the South may not be very familiar with chowchow- a southern condiment typically made to use up the odds and ends of the summer garden. You’ll see lots of variations in recipes, but usually the primary ingredients are green cabbage, green tomatoes (sometimes red is used as in this recipe), mustard or mustard seed, onions, peppers, and vinegar. Turmeric is also very common and gives chowchow a brilliant, almost day-glow yellow color. Other ingredients often seen in chowchow are cauliflower, celery, and carrots.
ChowChow is most often used as a topping for pinto beans, but I think using it on a Reuben is brilliant. ChowChow tends to have a crunch and a freshness that sauerkraut lacks.
Reuben with ChowChow (recipe adapted slightly from Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook)
- 1 pound thinly sliced corned beef, divided in 8 portions
- 8 tablespoons chowchow (recipe follows)
- 8 slices rye bread
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 8 slices swiss cheese
- 4 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing (recipe follows)
- Spread one side of each piece of bread with butter. On non-buttered sides, spread a layer of Thousand Island dressing
- Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. For each sandwich, place 1 portion of corned beef in hot pan, top with 2 tablespoons of chowchow and cover the chowchow with another portion of corned beef. Heat for a minute or 2, carefully flip over and cook an additional 2 minutes, until chowchow is warmed through.
- Place a piece of bread buttered side down on griddle and put a piece of cheese on top. Next layer a corned beef -chowchow bundle and top with another slice of cheese. Place the second piece of bread on, buttered side up.
- Grill until the bottom is browned. Flip over and continue cooking until second side is browned and cheese is melted.
Traditional Appalachian ChowChow
- 4 cups finely chopped green cabbage
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- 2 tablespoons roasted red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
- In a medium pot, combine all ingredients over high heat until mixture starts to simmer.
- Decrease heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Cabbage should be translucent at this stage.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if going to use later.
Thousand Island Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 heaping tablespoon ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire
- pinch of salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.
Other recipes from Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook