By 8:30 am on Saturday morning, it was already sticky and nearing 80 degrees. As I walked up the enormous hill near my house with a cabbage, lengthy French baguette, two pounds of bacon, a carton of eggs, two rolls of paper towels, a bottle of vinegar, two apples, three peaches, some kielbasa, a latte, and a red-eye (a cup of black coffee with a shot of espresso—the only real way to start a day), I wondered what on earth possessed me to stop for groceries on the way back from my morning run.
Oh yes that’s right, I’d woken up at 7 o’clock in the morning with a wild craving…for braised cabbage. What. The. Hell. This is what pregnant women must feel like, I imagine. For me it was just that since we came back from Prague, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the braised cabbage and smoked pork knuckle I had the first night we were there.
I’m sure that part of it was honeymoon bliss combined with exhaustion, but the food just tasted so good. As we kept cool and had a movie marathon day this past weekend, I put on a big pot of goodness to braise. This doesn’t happen often but it came out so right the first time. It’s a simple recipe too, which makes it even better. One bite and I was back in the Czech Republic. Now if only I could get that beer again…hmm…
Braised Cabbage of Happiness
- 1 head of cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp. butter (I used some bacon fat too!)
- 1-2 slices of bacon, chopped
- 1.5 tsp. caraway seeds
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- Black pepper to taste
- One small apple, grated
Melt the butter in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and sauté very gently for 10 minutes. The onions should be soft, translucent and lightly golden. Add the bacon and cook five minutes more.
Add the cabbage and caraway seeds to the pot and mix well. Cover the pot tightly and cook for five minutes.
Add the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Stir everything together thoroughly and then increase the heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes and then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer gently for one hour. Stop by the stove and give it a stir every so often. Near the end, add the grated apple. I like to apple to stay crunchy, but if you like it soft go ahead and add it earlier.
If you want to make this into a meal, here’s a quick protein to go with it. Kielbasa is the most similar thing (that I’ve found) to the kranjska klobása served at the food carts in Prague, so that’s what I used. Making it from scratch is definitely in my future, but I digress.
Cut 3 oz. of kielbasa into half moon shapes and fry until lightly browned. Add 1/3 cup of chicken stock, 1/3 cup of beer, and a squirt of spicy barbecue sauce to the pan. Simmer until the sauce reduces to about 1/3 cup. You can also add a few tbsp. of milk if you like a sauce with a little bit more body. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour yourself a frothy beer and enjoy being in a Bohemian state of mind. Dobrou chut’!
Ciao for now,