I want to make Charlie B’s tomorrow. This is a leftover breakfast, but to make it you kind of have to have the leftovers. I already had the potatoes, but I needed the sausage. That meant bratwurst for dinner tonight.
I wanted to keep my roasted potatoes, so I used steak fries as my starch for this meal. That left me looking for a hot vegetable. I had half a head of red cabbage, left over from the Cal Col Roja that I am making for Saturday night’s dinner, Veracruz-style Fish Tacos. German sausage leads me to serving German cabbage.
Rotkohl is one of those dishes that both Jan and I grew up with. It wasn’t until I started to make it for myself that I discovered that it could be turning into something more edible. Jan’s mother and mine would cook this dish for an hour, until it had turned to sludge. Cook the cabbage until just tender and if possible cook it the day ahead and let it pickle overnight in the refrigerator for the best flavor.
Jan does not like bacon (another childhood trauma), so I am making this with butter. Bacon drippings are the traditional fat used in this dish and they add a nice flavor. However, many people today avoid this fat for various religious, ethical and dietary reasons.
Never one to make the same dish the same way twice, I had to make changes. California Fusion cuisine allows you to take traditional recipes and to see how far you can take them. What new dish can you come up with by mixing it up.
I was at the store today and they had these beautiful ripe pears and Meyer’s lemons. I thought that would be better than regular lemon juice and an apple. I used white wine as my liquid, because white wine goes better with pears—also I happened to have a quarter of a bottle in my refrigerator that I am trying to use up.
Note: I reduced some of the quantities from the original recipe, because I am only feeding three this time and I am using up ingredients left over from making other dishes today.
Karl’s Rotkohl II
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup Sauvignon Blanc wine (water or good German beer)
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp. black pepper
4-5 whole cloves
1 small bay leaf
1 Tbs. Meyer’s lemon juice
1 pear, diced (or apple)
1 Tbs. butter (olive oil for Vegan or bacon drippings for the traditional)
¼ medium red onion, diced
¼ sweet onion, diced
Pinch Kosher salt
½ head Red Cabbage, shredded
1. Measure out the first seven ingredients into a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
2. Peel, core, and dice the pear and add it to the bowl.
Tip: The acids in the bowl will prevent the pear from browning.
3. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan and sauté the onion for 3 minutes, until just translucent.
4. Add the cabbage to pan and mix it in with the onions. Cover the pan for 2 minutes, until the cabbage is well wilted. Remove the cover and continue sautéing for 3 more minutes, until most of the pan liquid has been released.
Tip: The cover traps the steam released by the vegetables and wilts the cabbage much faster and more evenly.
5. Add the contents of the bowl and mix well.
6. Bring the pan to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Cook about 20 minutes or until the cabbage is just tender, but still with a small bite.
7. Check for flavor balance, add more sugar, vinegar or pepper, if necessary.
8. Let the rotkohl meld for at least one hour.
Tip: It is best to refrigerate overnight to let the cabbage pickle a bit.
9. Drain any excess liquid and discard the cloves and bay leaf.
10. Serve warm as a side dish or cold as a salad.