Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Noodles and Cabbage with Sausage

A dish of cabbage and onions pan sauteed in butter with cooked egg noodles and andouille sausage stirred in.
A dish of cabbage and onions pan sauteed in butter with cooked egg noodles and andouille sausage stirred in.

Noodles and Cabbage

First off, let's just clear the air by saying no... this is not a "southern" recipe, so out of the gate, I'll let you know that we are veering off the path today, to visit, in this case, Poland.

One day, not long ago, a reader mentioned this dish on the Facebook page and, being a lover of all things cabbage, I decided to make it. I had no idea of the true origins of this cabbage and noodle dish, so I did a little digging. Turns out, based on my own ancestry, it should already be in my blood and so, in truth, I guess it actually does fit here.

I found that the American noodles and cabbage dish we enjoy here today, appears to be at least partly rooted in a Polish dish called Kluski z Kapusta po Polski - kluski meaning noodle and kapusta meaning cabbage. I think it'd be safe to say that several cultures, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, have a similar dish. In Pennsylvania, where many Eastern European immigrants settled in the United States, there is a similar dish called Halushki, or Haluski Kapusta, which may also include potatoes or use a potato dumpling, more heavily caramelized onions, cabbage and browned noodles, and sometimes the addition of carrots as well as Polish sausage, depending on its origins.

As in all cooking, I did find that there are those kinds of variations to the base recipe here also, as some do include sour cream or cottage cheese, some use thick strips of homemade potato noodles, and some even substitute sauerkraut for the cabbage - all depending on what country and even region the version originated. With some variations, cooked meat is often included, typically bacon or ground beef, though ground veal, chicken, turkey and pork are also used, and mushrooms are often added, or even substituted for the meat. I've also seen it called Lazanki in that form, a dish that may have actually arrived in Poland, via Italy.

All of this to say, that even though Noodles and Cabbage may not be particularly Irish in its origin, since we, in the United States, associate pretty much any cabbage dish with our celebration of St. Patrick's Day - where for at least one day, everybody is a little Irish - I'm adding it to my round-up collection of recipes for St. Patrick's Day. It seems a good fit for our American celebration and if you like to do a whole corned beef brisket for St. Paddy's, I think this would make a great side dish.

There is not much to making an Americanized version of Noodles and Cabbage really and, in fact, you barely need a recipe at all. Since the base Polish version is very close to the way that we Southerners prepare our fried cabbage, I based mine on that adding in packaged egg noodles. What I can tell you, is that if you're already a fan of cabbage, adding noodles makes for a delicious combination and a great side dish anytime and the andouille only bumps it up even more. Y'all know that despite my husband's dislike of cabbage, I love it and I sure gobbled this one up!

Here's how to make it.

Prepare noodles al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water; drain noodles and set aside. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet and lightly brown the sliced andouille sausage; remove and set aside. Substitute a milder Kielbasa or smoked sausage for less heat.

Add butter or bacon drippings too a large pot; add the onion. Season the onions with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.

Add the cabbage, another pinch of salt and the caraway seed, if using, cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved cup of pasta water, and the vinegar, if using.

Cook, stirring regularly, until cabbage is tender and almost all liquid has evaporated; about 10 minutes. Add the noodles, pepper and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter or bacon drippings; toss.

Add the peas and/or corn, if using, and browned sausage. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed, and stir until warmed through. I like to use a few dashes of Cavender's seasoning. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using, taste and adjust seasonings; serve immediately.

If you're not interested in the sausage or the peas, it's also very good as just a basic cabbage and noodles.

For more of my favorite cabbage recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

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Posted by on March 13, 2013
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