One-Pot Wonders

My Greatgrandma's sour cabbage stew

November 15, 2021
1 Ratings
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I unfortunately do not remember Manyi, my Great-grandma on my maternal grand-father's side, as she died when I was less than two. But I have always been told how much she loved me. We used to live in a family house in Budapest (Hungary) and she spent countless hours looking after me as I was a baby.

Another constant in my family's recollections about her is how legendary a cook she was and especially how great she was when it came to the traditional tastes of her native Transylvania and her adoptive Hungary, both featuring some of Central Europe's most generous and hearty culinary traditions.

So today, I want to honour her memory by proposing this simple and sooo tasty specialty: the Székelykáposzta, or sour cabbage stew, a let-grandma-pack-you-a-little-food-for-the-way, oh-my-god-this-kid-is-not-well-fed, it-s-good-for-you-it-s-full-of-vitamine-C kind of food, par excellence.

During my countless bus trips from Budapest throughout Europe, I've always seen the excitment of people when opening those carefully sealed tupperwares given by the grandma before the trip. If Manyi had still been around, I am sure that mine would have contained székelykáposzta. And although I will never be a Central European grandma, my son will for sure have some of this stew in his backpack when he will start travelling on his own.

NOTE: when I say "sour cabbage", I mean a lacto-fermented cabbage that is typical in e.g. German (Sauerkraut), Hungarian (Savanyú káposzta) or Polish (Kapusta kiszona, I think) cuisine. Any deli selling products from these countries should have it. I know that kimchi is also based on lacto-fermented cabbage or that preserved cabbage also exists in China but whether these are the same, I don't know...

see e.g.: —marxoign

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds Sour Cabbage
  • 1 cup Smoked lard, diced
  • 1.5 pounds Pork meat (preferably leg)
  • 3 Onions
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Paprika powder
  • 1 tablespoon Caraway powder
  • 1 tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Marjory (or oregano)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1.5 cups Sour Cream
  • Some greens to decorate
  • 1 optional but recommended red chili.
  1. Dice onion, lard and garlic cloves.
  2. Sautee lard until it releases its fat, then add onions and garlic, reduce heat.
  3. When the onions are nicely translucent, take the pot away from the fire, add paprika, pepper, marjory and caraway powders, the bay leaf as well as a few pinches of salt. If you want to spice it up, add the chili now. Add 1 cup of water and put back on low heat, cook for around 15 - 20 minutes. Note: It is important to take the pot away from the fire and add a bit of water, else the paprika will burn and render the whole dish bitter.
  4. Meanwhile, dice the meat (in 3/4 inches in size). When the mixture in the pot is nicely cooked through and has thickened (onions basically melting into the rest), add in the meat and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes, add the sour cabbage, fill up with water and let simmer for at least an hour. note: some people "rinse" the cabbage first in order to reduce its acidity. I don't do this as the perks of this dish is the combination of the acidity, smokiness and hearty feeling.
  6. When the meat is really tender, the dish is ready. Serve it in a bowl, topped with a dullop of sour cream and decorated with finely chopped greens.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lynn D.
    Lynn D.
  • marxoign

2 Reviews

Lynn D. November 17, 2021
Is sour cabbage sauerkraut?
marxoign November 17, 2021
Basically yes, but I shoud sit down one day and make a full on comparison b/w Hungarian, German, Polish, etc sauerkrauts (yes, I'm a geek 🤓) to see if it is exactly the same.

E.g. in France or Belgium, when you buy "choucroute" (the ingredient, not the final dish), it's often already cooked in wine.