Archive for the 'German' Category

Rotkohl (Braised Red Cabbage with Bacon)

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At some level, I’m quite in touch with my German heritage. Cabbage, whether braised or pickled, frequently graced our table while I was growing up.

As winter approaches and the farmer’s market thins out, I become drawn to the vegetables that are still available. Even in southern California we have seasonality with our produce (despite the fact that tomatoes are still available).

Angela dislikes cabbage and so it takes several weeks before I’m willing to indulge myself. It’s hard to make just a little bit of cabbage and it takes time to properly cook it. I also need to prepare myself for it.

My particular preference is for the red varieties. To me, they have a deeper flavor. I specifically remember having some outstanding braised red cabbage in Germany (as well as excellent sauerkraut); I barely remember any sausage or pork roast that I ate. That may give you some idea of my appreciation of good cabbage.

I bought this copy of Saveur in the airport to read on our flight to Florida for Christmas (and then our unexpected “vacation” in Milwaukee). While looking through it, I happened upon this recipe for braised red cabbage. And, then and there, I knew I’d have to make it for myself.

So what that it serves 6 to 8? I apparently will have to eat leftover cabbage for the next week (I found out today that it works pretty well stuffed into a pita with leftover pork and reheated). Sometimes dealing with the leftovers is worth the initial splurge.

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Rotkohl (Braised Red Cabbage with Bacon)
adapted from Saveur, December 2007

1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 slices of bacon, cut into lardons
1 tbsp sugar
1 yellow onion, diced
salt and pepper
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and roughly choped
1/3 cup port
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 large head of red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup red currant jelly

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar and cook for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the onions to the dutch oven and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the apples, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the apples are soft, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add the port, vinegar, and cabbage to the dutch oven. Stir to combine. Cover and cook until the cabbage is slightly wilted, about 7 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken and beef stock and season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high to bring to a simmer. Cover, and decrease heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 1/4 hours until the cabbage is tender.
  7. Uncover and stir in the red current jelly. Season with salt and pepper and cook for4 to 5 minutes more.
  8. Serve with roast pork.

Serves 6 to 8.

Homemade Bratwurst

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For home cooking, there are a few things that you usually buy pre-made and aren’t really considered convenience foods: bacon, puff pastry, and sausage. Except, I decided that it would be fun to make my own sausage. And that’s when I realized I was a real foodie.

It’s not as if I don’t have access to quality sausage (the local butcher shop makes their own even if they seem to run out of hot Italian sausage before I can ever buy it). It really was a crazy idea.

In my defense, I did get the food grinding and sausage stuffing attachments for “free.” My employer offered a $50 gift certificate for completing a short health survey that I then applied to sausage making equipment.

Bratwurst isn’t the first batch of sausage that I made. That honor would go to garlic sausage that ended up too garlicy and not salty enough. That’s also when we found out that Angela is much better at feeding the meat into the casings than I am (I get to push the meat into the stuffer).

Will had planned an Oktoberfest themed Halloween party and I offered to bring homemade bratwurst. On the Monday before Halloween, Will came over for dinner and documented the process (all images except the top one are Will’s) of sausage making. It’s amazing the number of sexual innuendos you can make when making sausage; particularly when part of the process is done by your wife.

Making sausage is actually pretty easy as long as you have the proper equipment. I use a KitchenAid Mixer with the Food Grinder Attachment and Sausage Stuffer Attachment. The key issue is keeping everything really cold at all times. This is particularly true for the grinding portion or the fat will start to melt and the grinder won’t work anymore (this happened the first time I made sausage; I didn’t have the meat on ice and towards the end the grinding die kept getting gummed up with melted fat).

So how good was the sausage? Good enough that we didn’t remember to take any pictures of the bratwurst when it was cooked. Good enough that all that we cooked was eaten (and we made extra). Good enough that people wanted to take some home with them. Good enough that Angela, who doesn’t particularly like sausage (which means that I’m even crazier for wanting to make sausage), loved it. It was the best sausage I’ve had and that includes some in Germany and Austria.

So, I’ve made sausage and I have some panchetta curing (which is close enough to bacon for me). I suppose I need to make some puff pastry at some point.

Homemade Bratwurst
Adapted from Charcuterie

1350 grams (3 lbs.) boneless pork shoulder butt, cut into 2 inch pieces
450 grams (1 lb.) boneless veal shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces (or substitute 1 lb. ground veal)
450 grams (1 lb.) pork belly, skinless, cut into 2 inch pieces
40 grams (1 1/2 oz.) kosher salt
6 grams (2 tsp) ground white pepper
5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) ground ginger
5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) grated nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten, very cold
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
10 feet hog casings

  1. Combine all ingredients except eggs, cream, and casings in a large bowl. Toss to distribute the seasonings evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Place the hog casings in a bowl of water and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Several hours before grinding, place the food grinder, mixer bowl, paddle attachment, and any other attachments in the freezer.
  4. Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and place in a bowl of ice and salt. Grind the mixture through the small die into the mixer bowl set in a bowl of ice and salt.
  5. Beat the mixture with the paddle attachment on low speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs and cream and increase speed to medium. Mix until the mixture is uniform. Refrigerate the bowl until ready to stuff.
  6. Sauté a small portion of the sausage in a small bit of oil and taste for seasoning.
  7. Remove the hog casings from the refrigerator and rinse both the inside and outside of the casings in running water.
  8. Setup the sausage stuffer using the largest stuffing attachment. Place meat in the sausage stuffer and turn on to low speed until the meat is just at the end of the attachment. Slide the opening in the casing onto the stuffer and then push the remaining casing onto the stuffer until there is about an inch hanging off. Tie off the end of the casings. Slowly push the meat mixture into the sausage stuffer while holding the casing and letting the meat fill it (this is a two person job). The speed is determined by the speed of the meat being putting into the stuffer not the speed of the mixer. When there is no more casing, tie it off and repeat this step with the remaining casing.
  9. Twist the sausage into 6 inch long segments and cut with shears.
  10. Cook the sausage to an internal temperature of 150ºF.

Makes 5 lbs. of sausage.