Cabbage Anyone?

Weißkohl – green cabbage – repollo verde, otherwise known as
Brassica oleracea convar. capitata var. alba
is very tasty in deftigen Eintöpfen mit Pinkel (hearty casseroles with sausages), Krautkuchen (there’s no term in English! It translates to “cabbage cake”), Kohlrouladen (stuffed cabbage) and, especially here in Costa Rica, where lettuces are a more gringo-ish desire, as ensaladas, salads or coleslaw. Cabbage has a high vitamin C content, about 46 mg/100 g, depending on age and it’s believed to have cancer-fighting and antibiotic properties through its Senfölglykoside or mustard oil glucosinolate.

Since it’s Saturday and many of you have time to enjoy a nice meal with friends & family, I’d like to present my very own and very quick ‘Kohlpfanne mit Pinkel à la Atenas’* for your dining consideration.
* ‘Panfried Cabbage with Kielbasa’

To feed 2 to 3 people you need:
1 smallish head of green cabbage
1 very large onion, preferably yellow, coarsely chopped
1 red sweet pepper = chili dulce = rote Paprika, also coarsely chopped
a dozen or so of ½ inch chunks of pickled jalapeño peppers, spines & seeds removed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
sea salt to taste (a little more than you usually use, cabbage needs some salt, but balance against the saltiness released from the processed meats – if used)
ground cumin to taste
1 Tbs of crushed, dried thyme
1 Tbs Banquete Salsa de Ajo (garlic sauce for lazy people, crushed garlic will work just fine)
Banquete Chilero Salsa Picante (hot sauce) to taste
2 Tbs Salsa Lizano (or more, I love that stuff)
1 cup or so of freshly squeezed orange juice
your meat of choice – entirely voluntary!
This could be kielbasa or any other kind of sausage, or smoked pork chops or thick-sliced bacon – or nothing of the kind. I used a ring of kielbasa-like salchicha de cerdo (btw, on sale at Coope!), cut in manageable chunks.

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a large sauteuse and brown your sausage/bacon/whatever nicely on all sides at mid-high heat.

Turn down heat to mid-low, add onion & sweet peppers, softly sautéing for at least 5 minutes. Add seasonings, jalapeño, garlic sauce, salsa Lizano & hot sauce. Sauté a while longer, before adding the cabbage, just kind of throwing it on top of everything else. Your pot might now be full to the brim. Pour the orange juice over the cabbage and put a lid on the sauteuse. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove lid and toss and turn and mix the whole shebang – already shrunken a bit – so that cabbage and all other ingredients are thoroughly amalgamated. Put the lid back on and continue to simmer until the cabbage is done, which depends on the age and coarseness of your cabbage. I simmered it for a further 10 minutes. 

CAVEAT: do not, I implore you, cook the poor cabbage to death. Respect your vegetables and the nutrients therein and keep it crunchy or al dente. The British cuisine, otherwise known as yucky cookin’, has received it’s abysmal reputation, because they used to cook everything until it had safely turned to unidentifiable mush. Good for the preservation of cheap dentures, I suppose, but bad for your taste buds & health. Don’t be a 19thcentury Brit, which works well for BBC series, but not for Haute Cabbage Cuisine!

You could enjoy your cabbage with mashed sweet potatoes or cornbread. I, on the other hand, had three very ripe plantains laying about, which indicated through their entirely blackened skins an urgent need to be processed. We love plátanos maduros, ripe, sweet plantains and I usually serve them with Kassler Rippchen, smoked pork chops, may Abraham forgive me. So, why not pair it with your quintessential Shtetl food, cabbage? Bananas are kosher, aren’t they? Pan fried ripe plantains are also a handy side dish, because they don’t mind sitting on ‘low’ until you’ve got your main dish act together.

I simply peel the ugly black skins and cut the naked plantain into chunks. Heat a little vegetable oil, or butter, if you’re cholesterolly brave, because butter does taste better, but will kill you earlier – your choice. Toss the plantains in the hot oil or foamy butter and brown on one side. Turn the critters around and season with a dusting of powdered ginger, powdered white pepper and salt. Now, here’s the trick that turns a boring plátano into a yummy tropical treat. Mandarina limón juice! We love our mandarine-lemon-hybrids in Costa Rica. It’s lime juice with a sweet mandarine edge, quite unique. Today I was pan frying three plantains, which requires the juice of three mandarina limones (I suppose, for you mandarina limón deprived guys, orange juice with a bit of lime juice added would do). While the heat is still medium-high for browning the plantains, squirt the citrus juice over it and let it bubble into the plantain chunks, flavoring the cooked banana thingies (If the plantains aren’t overly ripe yet, or if I want to be extra fancy for guests, I glaze each chunk with a dab of honey). Now you turn down the heat and go about your more important business, like finishing the cabbage, setting the table, opening the wine, folding the napkins and going to the bath room. Your plantains won’t mind the neglect, as long as you turned the heat way down.

Guess what, that’s it. A non-Irish, non-caraway flavored, citrusy green cabbage dish. Enjoy!

Sorry, for once no pictures. We ate it all, before I had a chance to click away 🙂

3 thoughts on “Cabbage Anyone?

  1. Since there seem to be so many of them around, I will teach you who to deal with assholes. It won't be pretty, nor should it be. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for society is to leave the broken and bloody body of an asshole, lying in the gutter -> of course, I mean figuratively, of course, being the pacifist that I am.

    Like

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