Cabbage: chunky cut

Cabbage: chunky cut

Flour, eggs, water and whatever.

That could well have been "a fundamental" for peasant cooking in Hungary.

While I do not know the facts behind this custom, authentic and thorough Hungarian cookbooks will share many recipes for pasta mixed with various things.

Pasta with cabbage (pictured here - káposztás tészta), or pasta mixed with potatoes (krumplis tészta - that's double carbs!), with poppy-seed (mákos tészta), with ground walnuts (diós tészta), with jam (dark, thick plum butter - lekváros tészta), with farmer's cheese and bacon and bacon fat (túrós csusza - see my blog post about this), or farmer's cheese and dill.

Cabbage: finer chop

Cabbage: finer chop

All of these appeared at meals in my house growing up - though I did not have a taste for all of them until I was older. I usually stuck to pasta with jam - and I know it sounds peculiar - but that would have been supper - not dessert - supper, the main, that's it.

[Permit a little aside. The pasta with jam was, in my childhood home, called "dzsemes teszta". There is no such word as "dzsem", but if you use Hungarian pronunciation rules and then listen to what you are saying - it sounds like the English word "jam" with a wee Hungarian accent. Hunglish! This is "a thing" - someone even began to pull together a Hunglish dictionary - and one day I'll share many of the Hunglish words in my grandmother's hand-written recipe book. Adorable!]

The recipe I started with is from The Art of Hungarian Cooking (1954), but reviewing it now I can see that we have made quite a few serious modifications. I suppose that's how family recipes evolve.

If you Google káposztás tészta, and view the "image" results, you can see that some people like the cabbage to be very finely chopped. I can't really argue with that. It means that the cabbage may be more likely to stick to every strand of pasta. If you like that style, then the cabbage should be grated by hand or in a food processor - unless you are brilliant at doing a "fine chop" with a knife. 

The original recipe uses only 3 cups of cabbage which it claims serves 6 - which simply does not make sense - look at how little I was left with after cooking 7 cups of cabbage. I just cook up all of a small / medium cabbage, or half of a large one. The ratio of cabbage to pasta is up to you - in the KB kitchen we like more cabbage. Bottom line is that this is my "batch" recipe vs the small portion recipe in the book which is: 3 cups finely chopped cabbage, 2 tablespoons fat, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon pepper.

cabbage - small or half a large

4 TB fat or lard
2 TB sugar

2 tsp black or white pepper

1 tsp salt

This started as 7 cups of cabbage!

This started as 7 cups of cabbage!

Finley chop the cabbage - you may end up with 6-12 cups - this will cook down significantly (see photo). Lately, I have been using the feed tube / slicer combo on my food processor - close enough to "finely chopped. If you end up with 10-12 cups cabbage, you can increase the lard and sugar a wee bit.

For optimal, authentic flavour you should use lard.

Brown the cabbage in the fat which has been heated with the sugar. In a Dutch Oven, on medium heat, this takes about 30 minutes. (Using less cabbage and a larger fry pan, this might take less time.) Add pepper and salt and continue to cook to desired "doneness". ("Done" means that it has cooked down, and has a glorious colour and flavour.) Season to taste with more salt - though this may not be necessary.

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until tender. Combine with cooked cabbage and serve.

Notes and Tips...

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