Cabbage & Potato Stew with Sausage

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I can’t believe in just few days it’ll be Halloween and the holiday season is around the corner. It’s hard to believe how quickly time passes. When I stop and think about the phrase ‘time waits for no one’ it helps me reflects on the days and years passed. When I was young(er), I would’ve never guessed that eating cabbage and potatoes would be a common meal for me as an adult. My family loves a cabbage and potato dish made with spices as much as the next Indian family. Those cabbage and potatoes I grew up eating consisted of sautéing potatoes and cabbage in a round bottomed skillet in oil and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop in the hot oil, potatoes are added along with turmeric, chili powder (or chopped green chili, depending on who you ask for the recipe), and salt. All is sautéed for couple minutes and then thinly* sliced cabbage is added to the pan. Covered and everything is cooked until tender. This shaak/subji* is eaten with roti or a homemade flatbread.

*thinly sliced cabbage is the key to this Indian recipe and it can only be done by hand; I’ve sliced it in the food processor without success, sadly. It is tedious and time consuming but slicing the cabbage by hand yields the best, thin ribbons that are perfect for this recipe.

*The word shaak is used in our home and many others in the state of Gujarat however many non Gujaratis also use the word subji/subzi for the same style of preparation. Any one of the words are used interchangeably to describe the same thing, a vegetable cooked in oil with spices. You will hear me use any of the above.

To give you all that information of an Indian dish and I am in fact sharing another recipe. You get two recipes for one. Circling back to how this recipe developed in my kitchen. Living in Germany and its food has certainly shaped my meals. Germans love their cabbage and although Americans think they only eat cabbage in the form of sauerkraut it does go beyond that. When we lived there, I tried a potato, cabbage and German bratwurst dish. Outside of Oktoberfest in late September and October, variations of potatoes and cabbage are featured on restaurant menus and home kitchens weekly. They are the backbone of rib-sticking meals that are needed for the windy, wet, snowy winters.

There it was soup consistency and my version is thicker and stewy. There it had juniper berries which I have omitted because it wasn’t distinctive in this recipe. There it was served with rye bread to mop up the juices, at home I’ve served it with noodles or rice.

Cold, dreary German winters (and sometimes Spring) motivated me to create this in our home because it is exactly what we crave when the temperatures cool. The first night the temperatures dropped here I reached for the sausage in the freezer and made a large serving. As we experience life, different ingredients and recipes shape our meals and these days cabbage and potatoes stewed with sausage is cooked in my home compared to my parents’ home whom still enjoy theirs sautéed with spices.

This stew works because it can be cooked in a slow cooker or on the stove top. It can also be doubled and tripled for a weeknight meal or an entertaining with friends. I’ve made this on a Monday and eaten the leftovers on Thursday and it was just as good because the flavors had a chance to marry.

Cabbage stewed with sausage and potatoes
serves 2 generously

1 teaspoon Oil, vegetable or canola
1/4 lb of pork belly or 2 strips bacon, diced
1/2 lb fresh sausage or ground pork*
1 small onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 of jalapeño, sliced (spice level varies)
1 potato, large dice
1 tablespoon smoked paprika, not spicy
4 sprigs fresh Thyme
1 tablespoon Cider vinegar
1 small head or ½ of medium head savoy cabbage, thickly sliced
1 cup low-or-no- sodium chicken or vegetable stock
Salt & extra black pepper

*Note fresh sausage (without casing) is key for this stew because it adds another flavor component. Fresh Kielbasa or Andouille are great for this recipe. Avoid breakfast sausage. If fresh sausage isn’t available, use ground pork seasoned with black pepper, marjoram, thyme and paprika.

In a large braising pot, add 1 teaspoon of oil on a medium heat. After 30 seconds add diced pork belly or bacon and sausage and cook for 2 minutes. The fatty portions of pork belly will melt in the pan if there’s plenty of fat; this is a good thing; actually, it’s a great thing! Stir in sliced onions and cook for another 2 minutes, until brown on the edges.

Stir in minced garlic, sliced jalapeño and potatoes. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add smoked paprika, fresh thyme and cider vinegar. (Be sure to add only 1 tablespoon of Cider vinegar otherwise the stew can be overly acidic.) Season with a healthy pinch of salt and black pepper. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Uncover and stir in chopped cabbage and chicken stock. Add a pinch of salt and pepper (enough to season the cabbage). Cover and cook for 25 minutes.

Once finished cooking, allow the stew to cool, uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve with rice, noodles or bread.

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