This cabbage dish is another traditional Romanian dish that I grew up with and it was one of my favorites growing up. The beauty of this dish is that you can use any smoked meat you prefer, but traditionally it’s made with smoked bacon or smoked pork. The smoked meat gives it a nice smokey flavor and if you’re not a huge fan of cabbage, this dish might change your mind.
Personally, I’m not a big cabbage eater, I mostly use cabbage when I make cabbage rolls or for a cabbage salad. However, this dish I love. I don’t make it very often, maybe a couple times a year, well because I hate shredding cabbage, I make a big mess every time.
I remember growing up, I used to be so happy when my mom would make this, especially because my sister didn’t like this dish, so it just meant more for me.
For this recipe I used half of a cabbage, but it was a pretty big cabbage, so if you have a small one use the whole thing. I know it may look like a lot of cabbage as you are shredding it, but trust me it will cook down. First thing I do though, is put the shredded cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle some salt over it, not too much because then your dish will end up too salty, so about 1 tsp of salt. After you’ve salted the cabbage, rub the cabbage between your hands for a bit and then let it rest for a few minutes. While the cabbage is resting, saute an onion in a bit of butter, then add the chopped bacon and saute until the bacon has rendered some of its fat and the onion is cooked through and translucent in color. Make sure you use a pot or a skillet that is oven proof. As far as the bacon goes, I buy the one that is not sliced, and this way I can cut it up a bit thicker.
Add the cabbage to the skillet and add the tomato paste, water, dill and spices. You have to add enough water to completely cover the cabbage. I personally love dill, and dill and cabbage is a wonderful marriage. Now is the time to taste the sauce for salt, and add a bit more if you feel it needs it. However, I tend to be careful with the salt, because for whatever reason this dish always seems saltier at the end when it’s done cooking, so take it easy with the salt, if it’s not salty enough you can always add it to your plate.
Cook this on the stove top until the sauce starts boiling then cover up the skillet and place it in the oven for about 45 minutes, then remove the cover and continue baking for another half hour or so. The juice from the cabbage should be almost gone when this is done.
Well that’s about it, it’s a pretty simple dish to make and very delicious.