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This is my Mom’s Braised Cabbage, a quintessential Romanian dish that cradles the soul with its rich, hearty layers of smoky pork and tender, spice-infused cabbage. Each bite is a celebration of rustic, homestyle cooking, embodying the love, warmth, and heritage embedded in this timeless family recipe.
Mom’s Braised Cabbage Recipe
Just like my Mom’s Pork And Beans, this is her Braised cabbage, dishes that I grew up with and loved. It’s one of my favorite meals ever because it’s like a big, warm hug in a bowl, with its sweet cabbage and smoky pork flavors all mixed together. The soft cabbage, mixed with flavorful pork and gentle spices, made our kitchen smell amazing every time Mom cooked it.
It’s a tasty trip down memory lane, where every bite takes me back to being a kid in my mom’s kitchen. The melt-in-your-mouth cabbage, snuggled up with hearty pork and bright dill, creates a bowl of comfort that’s hard to resist, making every bite a little moment of homey happiness.
Why You’ll Love My Mom’s Braised Cabbage
- Easy to Make: This cabbage dish is super simple! You just mix everything in one big pot and let the oven do all the work. It’s a no-fuss, easy recipe that anyone can try.
- Kind to Your Wallet: Making this dish won’t cost you a lot. Cabbage and pork are usually pretty cheap to buy, but they make a meal that feels rich and hearty. It’s a tasty way to save some pennies!
- Cozy and Comforting: Every bite of this dish is like a warm, yummy hug! It’s soft, a bit smoky, and just plain comforting. Perfect for making you feel good and cozy inside.
- Olive Oil: Adds a smooth, rich flavor to the dish and helps to sauté the onions. If you’re out, any neutral oil like vegetable or canola will do.
- Onions: Bring a sweet and aromatic base to the cabbage, crucial for depth. Yellow onions are standard, but white or red onions can also work.
- Smoked Pork Hock: Infuses the dish with a robust, smoky flavor. You might swap it with smoked turkey for a different twist.
- Tomato Paste: Offers a concentrated, tangy tomato flavor. If unavailable, canned tomatoes, reduced down, can replace it.
- Cumin: Adds a warm, earthy base to the dish’s flavor profile. Ground coriander could be an alternative.
- Smoked Paprika: Brings a smoky, sweet pepper vibe. Regular paprika or a dash of chipotle powder might substitute well.
- Black Pepper: Gives a classic, spicy kick. White pepper can substitute for a milder, different kind of spiciness.
- Cabbage: The star, absorbing all the delicious flavors. Green or Savoy cabbage both work here; choose according to your preference or availability.
- Salt: Enhances and balances the flavors. Sea salt, kosher salt, or table salt—use what’s in your cupboard.
- Fresh Dill: Adds a fresh, herby note. If fresh is unavailable, dried dill or even fresh parsley can stand in.
- Bay Leaves: Contribute to the rich, savory broth. If out of bay, try a pinch of thyme instead.
- Water: Creates the cooking liquid. You could also use a light vegetable or chicken broth for more flavor.
Alright, let me tell you how simple it is to whip up my mom’s braised cabbage—it’s as comforting and cozy as a dish can get!
Start by preheating that oven to a toasty 350℉. Now, let’s give that pork hock a good wash and a pat down with some paper towels. Cut it up into bite-sized pieces and remember, hang on to that bone – we’ve got plans for it later!
Grab your Dutch oven and warm up that olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the onions, give them a gentle stir, and let them soften a bit for around 3-5 minutes. Time for the pork hock meat to join the party! Stir it in and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes. If things get a little sticky, splash a bit of water in there.
Next up, stir in the tomato paste, cumin, smoked paprika, and black pepper. Hold off on the salt for now, we’ll circle back to it in a bit. Let all those flavors meld together for another 2-3 minutes.
Now for the star of the show – the cabbage! Sprinkle it with about a teaspoon of salt, give it a gentle stir, pop the lid on, and let it cook down for about 5-10 minutes. It may look like a lot of cabbage, but trust me, it will cook down quite a bit.
Sprinkle in that fresh dill, and tuck in the bay leaves. Pour in enough water to cover the cabbage – around 6 cups for me. Stir it all together, and nestle that hock bone right in the middle to infuse its rich flavor.
Bring it to a boil, cover it, and carefully move the Dutch oven into your preheated oven. Let it braise for 1 to 1½ hours, giving it a little stir every 30 minutes. Tip: consider taking the lid off for the last 30 minutes to let brown a bit on top.
Once it’s all tender and delicious, let it cool for a bit before serving. A side of polenta or a chunk of crusty bread will complement this dish beautifully, soaking up all that yummy sauce. There you go – a plate full of comforting flavors from my childhood to your table!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this dish vegetarian/vegan-friendly?
Absolutely! You can omit the pork hock and perhaps add some more smoked paprika or a dash of liquid smoke for that smoky flavor. Use a hearty mushroom like shiitake or portobello to add some “meatiness” to the dish, and vegetable broth instead of water for extra flavor.
Can I use a different kind of cabbage?
Sure thing! While the recipe uses regular green cabbage, you can definitely experiment with other varieties like Savoy or red cabbage. Just keep in mind that different cabbages might have slightly varying cook times and flavors.
Can I prepare this dish ahead of time?
Yes, you can! In fact, like many braised dishes, the flavors of this braised cabbage often deepen and improve after a day or two in the fridge. Just make sure to store it in an airtight container and reheat thoroughly before serving.
Is there an alternative to using a Dutch oven?
If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use any large, oven-safe pot with a tight-fitting lid. If you don’t have an oven-safe pot, you can simmer the cabbage on the stovetop instead, adjusting the cook time as needed and ensuring it’s cooked thoroughly and the flavors are melded together beautifully.
- Enhancing Smoky Flavor: To enhance the smoky flavor of the dish, especially if you’re using a less smoky meat or going vegetarian, consider adding a touch more smoked paprika, or a dash of liquid smoke for that deeply rich, smoky undertone that pairs so well with the cabbage.
- Cabbage Preparation: When preparing the cabbage, ensure it’s shredded into even pieces to promote uniform cooking. Also, giving the cabbage a good rinse after shredding can help to remove any lingering dirt or grit.
- Deglazing the Pan: When you deglaze the pan (adding a bit of water to get up all the tasty bits stuck to the bottom), ensure to scrape the bottom well with a wooden spoon. This not only prevents sticking but infuses your dish with rich flavors that develop during sautéing.
- Balancing Flavors: Taste and adjust your seasonings during cooking! The pork hock may infuse a good amount of saltiness into the dish, so always adjust your additional salt sparingly and according to your preference after the pork has had a chance to mingle with the cabbage and broth.
- Choosing the Right Pork Hock: When selecting a pork hock, look for ones with a good amount of meat on them. If possible, ask your butcher for recommendations or even if they can cut one to your preference, ensuring you get a lovely, meaty flavor throughout your dish.
To store the braised cabbage, just pop it into airtight containers and slide them into the fridge, where they’ll keep all that hearty goodness for up to 4 days. Now, if you’ve got leftovers and want to save some for another chilly day, freezing works wonderfully!
Make sure the cabbage has cooled down completely, then tuck it into freezer-friendly bags or containers, squeezing out as much air as possible to keep it fresh. It’ll chill out nicely in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, let it thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat gently on the stove, stirring occasionally to keep the flavors mingling and the texture smooth.
Discover More Romanian Recipes
- Mom’s Pork And Beans
- Romanian Meatball Soup (Ciorba de Perisoare)
- Romanian Cabbage Rolls (Sarmale)
- Mititei (Romanian Street Food)
- Tripe Soup (Ciorba de Burta)
- White Bean Dip
- Preheat your oven to 350℉.
- Thoroughly wash the pork hock and pat it dry with paper towels. Carefully cut the pork hock into bite size pieces, cutting as much meat from the bone as possible. Don't discard the bone, we'll add it to the pot later.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until it softens a bit.
- Add the pork hock meat only at this time, stir it in and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you find everything is sticking to the Dutch oven, deglaze with a bit of water.
- Add the tomato paste, cumin, smoked paprika and black pepper. Don't add salt just yet, we'll add it later on. Stir it well and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.
- Add the cabbage and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of salt over it. It's going to look like a lot, but don't worry the cabbage will cook down a lot. Gently stir it and cover the Dutch oven with the lid. Let it cook for about 5 to 10 minutes until the cabbage starts to soften.
- Add the fresh dill, bay leaves and enough water to completely cover the cabbage. I added 8 cups but it depends how much cabbage you have. Give it a good stir, it should be easier to stir now. Place the hock bone in there now and make sure it's covered by cabbage, you want it nice and deep in there to flavor the cabbage nicely.
- Bring to a boil, cover it up with a lid and carefully transfer the Dutch oven to the oven. Cook for 1 to 1½ hours, carefully stirring every half hour. You'll notice the cabbage will soften a lot and soak up all the liquid. Usually I like to remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
- Allow it to cool slightly and serve. Serve this with polenta or a nice crusty bread to soak up that yummy sauce.
- Opt for Fresh Cabbage: Ensure your cabbage is fresh and crisp for a vibrant, sweet flavor that truly shines in this comforting dish.
- Pork Hock Alternative: If you can’t find pork hock, smoked sausage or bacon can also lend a smoky depth to your cabbage.
- Tomato Paste Tip: To avoid waste, freeze leftover tomato paste in tablespoon portions for future use.
- Dill Delight: If dill isn’t your favorite, feel free to substitute with fresh parsley or even a bit of cilantro for a fresh, herbal note.
- Salt Timing: Remember to add the salt only after the cabbage has started to soften to ensure it wilts down perfectly without becoming tough.
- Serving Suggestion: This braised cabbage pairs beautifully with polenta or crusty bread but don’t be afraid to get creative with your sides!
- Slow and Steady: Patience is key with this dish! Allow it to braise slowly for that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and rich, developed flavor.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.