Friday, March 19, 2010

This Sautéed Cabbage is more German than German

If this dish isn't German, it ought to be.

It is said that fiction can have more truth than does recorded fact. Well, at least English teachers say that. But in the big scheme of things, I accept it as valid.

The dish I'm describing is so German, to the extent that I have experienced true German cooking, that if it is not in fact German it should be. It certainly has the essence, if not necessarily the fact, of Germanness. But my German cookbooks, of which I have over a dozen, show nothing quite like it.

One Sunday recently I was at the supermarket hunting for meat to cook in an interesting way with the partial head of Savoy cabbage and the boiled potatoes I had in the fridge. By chance, someone was demonstrating a new new product, a frozen Springer Mountain chicken burger from Gainesville, Georgia.

It seemed like something I could work with, so I bought some. I'll point out that this is not an endorsement of these Georgian chicken burgers, as excellent as they turned out to be. A juicy burger of beef, pork, or turkey would also have served well as a base for my dish.

The creation I came up with was "informed" (that's trendy research jargon meaning "influenced") by a traditional Czech-German manner of cooking kohlrabi (a cabbage cousin) with cream and by a shredded Brussels sprouts and apple dish I was testing during the winter.

Cabbage lends itself well to caramelizing, as does onion. I took advantage of both. I used no herb or spice seasoning, other than a little black pepper, which is consistent with German cooking. The flavors emerge from the vegetables themselves and are mellowed by the sour cream.

I served the cabbage as a topping on the fried, and lightly salted and peppered, chicken burgers. I'm convinced that turkey burgers, pork burgers or beef burgers, if juicy, would also have worked well.

The accompaniment was fried, seasoned slices of previously boiled potatoes. I presume that hash browns, french fries, or (as my grand kids would advise) "Tater Tots" would also do.

I recommend accompanying the dressed burgers and potato dish with non-yellow mustard and horseradish.

We had a dry but not particularly distinguished California Cabernet Sauvignon with this because it was already open. But on principle, an off-dry (Kabinett level of ripeness) German Riesling would go with the meal better, as would a good lager beer.

The recipe provides toppings for six large burgers.

Sauteed Savoy Cabbage and Sour Cream

3 tablespoons shredded shallot or onion
Half a small Savoy cabbage, quartered, cored and shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Water as needed
6 tablespoons sour cream

Prepare the vegetables.

In a medium-sized frying pan, fry onion in oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown.

Add cabbage. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Fry gently, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown. Sprinkle lightly with salt several times during frying.

Add 1/4 cup water. Stir, and simmer, with pan covered, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in sour cream. Simmer, covered 2 to 3 minutes. Stir, taste, and add salt, if needed.

Keep warm until served.

Spoon generously over burgers.


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