Knackwurst and Red Cabbage1
January 14, 2014 by Jason Rice MD
About a week ago, temperatures around here dipped into the negative double digits with wind chills in the negative fifties. Even us tough-skinned midwesterners thought, “Hmm…it’s getting chilly out…I oughta zip up my jacket today.”
That kind of weather calls for some serious comfort food to keep us all warm, and sausage with cabbage and potatoes more than fit the bill.
After the success of the red and green cabbage at Christmas, I decided to forego the jarred red cabbage component and make all of the cabbage from scratch. I added some roasted potatoes for heartiness and paired the whole thing with some knackwurst. Knackwurst is a great dinner sausage, something of a stubby, chubby, seasoned hot dog. If you can’t find them, a good weisswurst (which was what I intended to use, but couldn’t find), bratwurst or even a regular frankfurter will work well here.
- 1 lb knackwurst (or sausage of your choosing)
- 1 medium sweet onion
- 8 oz dill pickles
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 small head green cabbage
- 1/2 small head red cabbage
- 1 lb golden or red potatoes, diced and peeled
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 8 oz apple cider
- Yellow mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bavarian herb blend to taste
The longest part of this recipe is getting the potatoes roasted, so we will start with them and let them cook while we do the rest. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cube about a pound of potatoes. Place them in a zip top bag with a little olive oil and shake to coat the potatoes. Lightly season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. They will roast for about 30 minutes.
While the potatoes are roasting, we will make the cabbage. I chose a fairly savory style with only a hint of sweet as I find most red cabbage to be too sweet. This recipe combines red and green cabbage with onion, pickles and garlic cooked with vinegar, cider and mustard.
The primary reason for the two types of cabbage is for color. Feel free to use just one type if you prefer, but I like the look of the combination. To prep the cabbage, cut the heads in half.
Then in half again. This will make it easy to slice off the core/stem with one angled cut leaving you just the leaves and more tender of the white portions. Being careful not to remove any of your fingers, slice the stack of leaves into thin strips.
Before the cabbage gets cooked, however, we need to get the rest of the veggies softened in the pan. I like using the baby pickles, mainly because it’s less chopping, but also because the small size means lots of skin on the small pieces and helps them maintain their shape when cooking. The small pickles can be quickly chopped into small pieces.
After the pickles are chopped, slice up the onion and saute the pickles and onion in olive oil. Season with a little salt, pepper and herb blend.
I can’t tell you how much of the herb blend I use, but each time I season the dish with a dusting of the herbs, I use about the amount pictured above. So you can use that photo for reference, but essentially this is a bit of trial and error and tasting as you go more than anything else.
Once the onion and pickles have cooked for a few minutes, add the garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Then add the cabbage. You may want to add the cabbage in batches depending on the size of your pan. It will cook down quickly as it wilts and make more space for additional cabbage. Along with the cabbage, add the apple cider vinegar, apple cider and one “spiral” of mustard.
Again, I don’t measure the mustard, but each time I add it, I do one spiral as in the photo above. And, same as with the herbs, I taste repeatedly until I am happy. Stir the cabbage thoroughly to combine the liquids and spices and then simmer covered for at least 5 minutes.
While it’s simmering, slice the sausage into thin slices and set aside.
The red cabbage will get nice and bright as it softens, which helps you know when it’s cooked through.
At this point, taste the cabbage and adjust seasoning to taste. I added one more mustard spiral and one more dusting of herbs at this point as well as a few more grinds of black pepper. After adjusting the seasoning, stir again and simmer covered. Each time you adjust the seasoning, simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle.
Once you’re happy with the cabbage, add the sausage to the pan. I like to place the sausage on top and cover so that the sausage steams for about 5 minutes.
Once the sausage is heated thoroughly, then I stir it into the cabbage. It can sit over a medium-low flame covered at this point until the potatoes are ready.
Place the potatoes on a plate or in a shallow bowl, and cover with the cabbage and sausage. Spoon a little of the liquid from the bottom of the pan over the top of the dish and serve immediately.
This dish is a nice blend of simple, satisfying and frugal. It makes a nice hearty meal on a cold evening, and it works very well reheated as leftovers. Cabbage may not be the most exciting member of the veggie world, but it can do some pretty impressive things. Enjoy!
[…] could even get fancy and make your own red cabbage, which would be delicious, but part of the charm of this dish is its simplicity and ease of […]