Region: Northern Germany and in variations all over Germany
„Krauts“… isn’t that what the name created by the Brits and Americans during the first and second world war and that the international community still associates with the Germans because supposedly we eat so much Cabbage? If a name should be based on a certain vegetable that is consumed in largest quantity we should probably be called Tomaten (Tomatoes) or Kartoffeln (Potatoes) because the annual consumption of those two vegetables rank 1st and 2nd in popularity in Germany. With those options in mind, I say we stick with “Krauts”.
Despite an internet search, I could not even find reliable data on how much Cabbage is truly eaten in Germany – thus I conclude that the stereotype is a myth.
That said, the cabbage belt, i.e. the area with the highest cabbage production in Europe is located in Dithmarschen, in the very north of Germany. There, over 80 million different types of cabbage are produced annually and lined up back to back they would cover a distance from the North to the South Pole.
Cabbage has always had the reputation of being a poor people’s meal, and was thus not really popular with the well to do. In the 13th century, the medical profession agreed that Cabbage is not good for you as it “makes the blood go bad”. Fact is however, that cabbage is low in calories, and high in Vitamin C and B and the minerals Calcium and Iron. Cabbage is also said to lower Cholesterol.
Thus, I pledge: Eat more cabbage.
But in what form, you ask?
Here is a variation of the traditional Cabbage rolls that are popular all over Germany. Strictly speaking, it is not a German dish as it originated in Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean regions. In fact, Cabbage itself reached what is Germany today only in the 8th Century under Charles the Great.
When I was a kid, my mother would often serve canned cabbage rolls, which I hated. It has only recently that I discovered that homemade cabbage rolls are actually a simple to prepare and tasty fall and winter food, that definitely deserves its place in the ranks of my German food blog.
Serves: 4 Difficulty: Easy Preparation time: 45 minutes
- 500g potatoes
- 1 large pointed sweat heart cabbage
- freshly ground salt and pepper
- 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
- 500 g (17.5 oz) of ground/minced pork meat and ground/minced beef
- 8-10 thin bacon slices
- 100 g of Bacon bits
- 1 Egg
- 3–4 TBS ground bread crumbs (e.g. Matzo Meal)
- 4 Tbs Milk
- 200 ml (6.8 fl oz) Cream
- 2 TBS Tomato Paste
- 2 TBS clarified butter
- 500 ml (17 fl. oz) vegetable broth/stock
- 2 TBS Butter
- 2 level TBS Flour
- 1–3 TBS Hot Madras Curry (I use this one)
- Fresh Parsley for garnish
- Kitchen twine
Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a pot and add water so that potatoes almost covered. Add 2 TS of salt.
Rinse the cabbage and remove any stale or damaged outer leaves. Remove 8 large leaves. In a large pot, bring saltwater to a boil and blanch several leave at a time for 2 minutes. Remove and immediately place into cold water. Repeat with the other leaves.
With a sharp knife, cut the center rib parallel to the leaf to flatten it so the leaf can be easily rolled.
Finely dice two onions. Combine ground/minced meat, 1 egg, half the amount of diced onions, 4 TBS milk, 2 TBS tomato paste, freshly ground salt and pepper and knead with your hands until mixed well. Take two cabbage leaves and place on top of each other. From the meat dough, form 4 meat paddies of a size that the leaves can still be completely warped around them. Warp two slices of bacon around the meat paddy, place the meat in the center of the leaves and warp to and even parcel folding over the sides. Tie the leaves firmly in place with kitchen twine.
Place a lid on the potatoes and bring to a boil. As soon as steam comes out from under the lid, reduce heat to 1/3 of max. setting.
Heat 2 TBS clarified butter in a deep roasting pan. Sear the wraps well from all sided. Add 500ml (17 fl. oz) of vegetable broth/stock and let everything stew for 25 minutes.
Heat 2 TBS of butter in a small sauce pan, add the bacon bits and fry until they begin to brown. Add onions and sauté until they are well glazed. Through a fine sieve, dust with 2 level TBS of Flour and 1 – 3 TBS hot Madras curry powder (depending on how curryish and spicy you want your sauce. Form me, 2 TBS was enough). Sauté for ma few seconds than while whisking vigorously gradually add 125 ml of the vegetable broth taken directly out of the pot with the cabbage wraps. Add 200 ml (17 fl oz) of cream and refine with salt, pepper and further curry as needed. Keep warm.
Finely chop fresh parsely.
The potatoes should be done be now (don’t cook them more than 25 mins). Drain water.
Remove sting from the roll and serve on a plate with the potatoes. Sprinkle chopped parsley over potatoes. Add sauce as desired. If you want you can dust wraps with some extra curry powder (use a fine sieve).