Kapusta – Made with Pork Rib Meat
Kapusta kiszona duszona, known to many Polish people simply as kapusta which is the Polish word for “cabbage”, is a Polish dish of braised or sauerkraut (kapusta kiszona or “sour cabbage”). It is seasoned with salt, pepper and sometimes bay leaf, sugar, paprika and apples. Cabbage is the primary ingredient, is pickled, like sauerkraut, which is augmented with a mix of mushrooms, onions, garlic and meat—fatty pork—either rib meat, bacon, or occasionally smoked kielbasa.
The dish may be served at picnics, festivals, etc. where it is served as an accompaniment for meatballs, pork cutlets, kielbasa, other pork dishes, veal and game meats. In some homes, kapusta is served very thin, almost like a soup. In others, its ingredients are cooked until it becomes nearly as thick as mashed potatoes. It has been described as less sour in flavor when compared to German sauerkraut.
Much like the variation in seasonings, kapusta varies in the way it is served as well. Some kapusta is served with an ample amount of liquid (like a soup) while other varieties are cooked for a longer period of time so that the liquids reduce and the dish thickens. Kapusta is frequently served as an accompaniment to meat (traditional pairings include kielbasa, meatballs, or pork cutlets) and thick kapusta can be used as a filling for pierogi.
Kapusta may be served as a side dish, or used as a filling for pierogie. It is best when simmered over low heat for several hours, and even better when served the next day. For additional flavor, add smoked kielbasa to the kapusta during the last hour of simmering. Kielbasa (served with mustard and horseradish), kapusta, and mashed potatoes are a Popular Polish trio.
- 3-4 pounds of meaty pork ribs such as country style ribs
- 6 ounces diced salt pork (4 ounces after removing skin. The fatty type not the meaty type)
- 1 ½ cups onion, about one large onion
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 pound fresh sauerkraut with juice (found in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets)
- 1 medium head of cabbage, shredded (about 1½ - 2 pounds)
- 2 14½-ounce cans of stewed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 pounds all-purpose potatoes
- Serve with Rye bread and butter
- Place pork ribs in a large 8 quart heavy pot and cover the ribs with water almost to the top. Bring to a boil uncovered, lower to a fast simmer (low boil) and cook for 45 minutes, skimming off foam as they start to boil.
- Shut off burner and let them sit in the water for 15 minutes.
- While the pork is cooking, in a medium frying pan, cook the diced salt pork on a medium high flame for 2-3 minutes or until just starting to brown.
- Add onion to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes until just starting to get tender. Reduce to medium heat, stir in the flour and sauté for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Once cooked, remove ribs from the pot and let cool. Save the liquid in the pot.
- To the pot of liquid, add the sauerkraut and juice, shredded cabbage, stewed tomatoes, caraway seeds and salt as well as the cooked salt pork and onion mixture.
- Cook over medium high heat until cabbage is cooked, approximately 30-35 minutes. While the cabbage mixture is cooking, remove the meat from the bones, shredding the meat into bite-sized pieces.
- Return the cooked pork to the pot once the cabbage is tender and heat to serving temperature.
- Peel and quarter potatoes and place in cold sated water while cabbage mixture is cooking. Bring to a boil and over a medium boil, cook potatoes for 5-10 minutes or until tender.
- Drain water and cool potatoes to room temperature.
- Once the cabbage mixture has finished cooking, cut cooked potatoes into bite sized pieces and either add to the finished cabbage dish or serve on the side. (cooking in quarters and cutting after the fact will make them more firm and less mushy since less of the surface touched the boiling water.
- Serve with rye bread and butter for a traditional Polish meal.
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