When Pat Burnley and her husband, Bob, started canning foods in their two-car garage in 1954, no one thought it would amount to much of anything. In fact, Burnley herself refers to her husband's idea to begin a jelly business using "a range, three kettles and a half dozen good recipes" as a "harebrained scheme." But now, 57 years later, Kitchen Kettle Village, located in Intercourse, Lancaster County, boasts 42 stores and restaurants, and serves fresh-made, classic Pennsylvania Dutch favorites locals remember from their childhood.
Michelle Rondinelli, third-generation owner of the company, helped build the Kitchen Kettle Village brand with her grandparents, the Burnleys. "My grandfather was definitely a visionary," she says. "He saw potential for a tourist-related business in this area back in the '50s." Rondinelli, a self-described "foodie," says quality is their biggest focus in the food they produce. "We have a team of people who are part of our production meeting each week, and we taste three to four different products to make sure that the consistency and quality are still there." Kitchen Kettle's jams, relishes and jellies are always made in small batches to ensure freshness: "There is definitely an easier way to do what we're doing, but we feel this gives the best product possible."
The Village manufactures 95 different products, from the jams and jellies that started the business to newer items, including pickles and barbecue sauces — all of which can be sampled by visitors. "A large part of the Lancaster County and Pennsylvania Dutch heritage is the food," says Lisa Horn, Kitchen Kettle's "director of fun." "The area is known for its sweets and sours, delicious baked goods and hearty meals." Staples of Lancaster County, such as pickled beets, shoofly pie, kettle corn, scratch-made pretzels and hand-rolled fudge, are always available.
Their pride and joy is the on-site canning facility. "At Kitchen Kettle Village, guests can watch products being canned and preserved right before their eyes in our Jam and Relish Kitchen," says Horn. "Local farm women still make our products the old-fashioned way, using a small-batch cooking process that allows for peak flavor and quality control. When you enter the Village, you can't miss the many delicious sights and smells of food."
The Village's chefs use many of the products in their dishes, giving guests more ideas of how to use products in unique ways at home. For example, the Kling House Restaurant — called the "home of Kitchen Kettle," as it was once the house the Burnleys lived in — makes a homemade cranberry chicken salad sandwich, served open-faced with their cranberry-orange marmalade. "Jelly isn't just for toast," says Rondinelli. "There are a lot of other things you can do with it."
Chow chow is another traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish made of pickled end-of-summer veggies including green beans, cauliflower and carrots — and is Pat Burnley's favorite recipe. In addition to enjoying it straight from the jar, Kitchen Kettle chefs suggest making a chow chow pizza: Spread a mixture of cream cheese and jalapeño jam over a baked pizza crust, sprinkle with pepperoni and top with drained chow chow and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. And don't discard that juice: A couple of tablespoons can add zip to your deviled egg recipe, or combine with parsley, garlic, salt, oil and sour cream for a fresh salad dressing.
"We have a great recipe component to our website, [with] a lot of the recipes we make with our products," adds Rondinelli. Guests can share their own recipes or look up those used by Kitchen Kettle chefs: "Everything from how to use mint jelly to garlic herb jelly to strawberry preserves," she says. "I love to eat food, but am not a big cook myself, so what I like about our products is, they're easy ways to make recipes." Adding horseradish mustard to plain mashed potatoes, for example, she says, elevates the side dish to something special quickly and easily.
Kitchen Kettle's apple butter, pear butter, blueberry preserves, pepper cabbage and the tomatoes for the salsas also all use local produce, while the ice-cream stand makes its treats from Lapp Valley Farms cows in New Holland, and the Roasted Rooster Coffee Company sells coffee beans roasted in Lititz. "In season, our two chefs who run each of the restaurants will literally drive by a produce stand on their way to work and pick up watermelon, tomatoes and whatever might be in season," says Rondinelli.
And while new tastes are constantly coming out of Kitchen Kettle's test kitchen — including the brand-new cherry jalapeño and pineapple jalapeño jams — the best seller is still a Pennsylvania Dutch favorite: pickled beets. "The 'foodies' at Kitchen Kettle Village continue to develop new products that appeal to everyone," says Kristine Grego, Kitchen Kettle's food specialist. However, "perennial favorites remain as popular as ever."
recipes to go!
SUMMERTIME PEACH PIZZA
1 par-baked 10 in. pizza crust
2-3 fresh peaches
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 oz. candied pecans
½ lb. mascarpone cheese
4 Tablespoons Kitchen Kettle Peach Butter
Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash peaches and slice into thin wedges and place in a bowl. Add maple syrup and brown sugar, place on a baking sheet and roast for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, rub pizza crust on both sides with olive oil and place on hot grill. Grill pizza crust on one side for 2 minutes, turn pizza crust over and grill other side for 2 minutes. While second side is grilling, spread all the Kitchen Kettle Peach Butter over pizza crust. Place pizza crust on a serving plate and arrange the roasted peach slices on pizza crust overlapping peaches. Cut pizza into 8 slices and sprinkle candied pecans over pizza. Add a dollop of mascarpone cheese to each slice.
Recipe courtesy Scooter's Restaurant Chef Vince Knipple of Kitchen Kettle Village
CHICKEN BREAST WITH CORN SALSA
4 6-oz. boneless chicken breasts
½ bottle Kitchen Kettle Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 Tablespoons lime juice
3 Tablespoons scallions chopped (green part only)
1 cup Kitchen Kettle Zesty Salsa
1 cup fresh white corn
¼ of a red pepper, cut into strips
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Marinate chicken in dressing for at least one hour. For salsa: Combine all ingredients to allow flavors to marry for approximately 1 hour. Grill chicken breast until cooked through. Place corn salsa on plate and lean chicken breast against salsa.
Recipe courtesy Tom Rothfus, "food guy" of Kitchen Kettle Village
HARVEST PUMPKIN DIP
6 oz. cream cheese
7 oz. container of marshmallow creme
1 jar Kitchen Kettle Pumpkin Butter
Blend cream cheese and marshmallow creme until smooth. Add pumpkin butter and blend thoroughly. Serve with ginger snaps or animal crackers. It also tastes great when spread over pound cake.
PEPPER PARTY PLEASER
"The caviar of Lancaster County"
1 10 oz. (½ pt.) jar Kitchen Kettle Jalapeño Jam or Pepper Jam
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese
Pour the jalapeño jam or pepper jam onto a block of cream cheese and serve with your favorite crackers.
Recipes courtesy Kitchen Kettle Village
Published in A La Carteback to top