Saturday, August 17, 2013

Braised Cabbage/ almost grandma's recipe

When I was a kid I lived in West Ukraine with my grandma. She often made something very special. Something that I didn't quite appreciate back then, and now, much later, this sad feeling is almost eating me inside, that I didn't ask her about a lot of things, a lot of techniques and recipes which I would love to keep and cook for now my family,here, in New York.

My grandma is a very talented cook! However due to her age she can't cook the way she used to, but I still remember that no matter what she made, it was delightfully tasteful, with some sort of magic harmony of flavors tucked into every one of her dish.
It was very comforting, satisfying and cozy.

Once in awhile she made me a braised cabbage. For some reason she decided to name it "American braised cabbage" to make it look more appealing for a 5 years old child, so that way she could feed me more. Grandma probably didn't know that I actually adored this cabbage, and there was no need to be "creative" and call it American :-)  We usually  ate it with creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes and fresh caught fried fish.

I don't have the original recipe. And my grandma doesn't even remember her "American" cabbage. But the recipe is pretty basic and very popular in a lot of Russian and Ukrainian households.The idea is to sweat the cabbage with carrots and onions and then braise it with some tomato sauce and sour cream till it's fully cooked.

My version of braised cabbage is a little bit different as I wanted to make this dish more completed, no need of serving it with anything else.
Make sure you cook it in a big heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven. You can stick to salt and pepper and the result will be great, anyway I like to use a lot of spices while cooking.

Braised Cabbage:
1 big white onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
5 tbs olive oil or coconut oil
1 medium cabbage head, shredded
1 lbs to 2 lbs  any sort of smoked meat (sausages, pork, beef, it gives a nice "smoky" taste at the end) or   regular raw meat, cubed
17 oz or about 500 ml  tomato sauce/strained tomatoes
4 tbsp greek yogurt
1 cup farro (didn't have it, used couscous instead)
1 can of lentils, rinsed
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp zaatar
1 tbs cumin
1 tsp salt
4 medium bay leaves
fresh chopped herbs: dill, chives or parsley for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven, add onions. Cook on a medium heat for about 3 minutes, then add carrots. Lower the heat and saute onions with carrots for 5 more minutes.

Add the cabbage to the dutch oven. Pour about 3 cups of water in it. Cover with the lid, lower the heat to the minimum and let it "sweat" for 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally, just to make sure the cabbage doesn't burn or stick to the bottom.

Meanwhile fry the meat in skillet, until it is fully cooked.
In a large bowl combine tomato sauce with yogurt, farro, lentils,spices and cooked meat.

Once the cabbage is done "sweating"(you will notice almost half is remaining) slowly and very carefully pour the tomato mixture into it. Gently mix it all together.

Add bay leaves. Cover the pot and let it simmer over the very low heat for 25 more minutes, just until the farro is cooked. Discard the bay leaves once done cooking.
Enjoy hot or cold. It tastes better on the second day!
Just want to say how much I love and miss my grandma. Hopefully will visit her soon!

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