Last weekend Mom and I stopped into a few different farmer’s markets to buy produce for the events we each hosted last week. We stopped at Becholdt’s Orachards to pick up apples and potatoes when I noticed the most gigantic head of cabbage for just $3. I said to Mom, “We have to get it.” As we checked out, the girl at the counter told us she’d brought a big cabbage home the week before and her Dad had made a simple comfort food dish: stewed cabbage and egg noodles. The wheels in our heads started turning.
Next stop was Saylor’s, the local butchers, where we were picking up a large order of sausage for the dinner at Mom’s event. While she waited to get the box, I checked out their smoked meat section as I always do. I love that a small piece of smoked meat can take a dish from ho-hum to heavenly. There was a smoked turkey leg/thigh and some big ham hocks. I was deciding on which to buy when I checked out the price. The smoked hock was $2.82. I threw both in the cart. With a head of cabbage and a smoked hock, I knew we had dinner in the bag.
When we got home with our loot, the fascination with the $3 cabbage continued. “It’s much larger than a human head!” Andy said. Then Dad picked it up, “This is probably how much your baby is going to weigh when it’s born.” I picked it up to see for myself and it was a struggle to lift. “I hope my newborn baby doesn’t weigh this much!” Dad said he thought it weighed about eight pounds. I disagreed, which prompted Mom to pull out the scale and answer the question we’d all been wondering: how big is this thing, really?
The cabbage was so heavy Mom’s OXO scale couldn’t read the weight because it maxes out at 11 pounds. You get the idea, this thing was huge. Inspired by the checkout girl at Becholdt’s and with the addition of the heavenly smoked ham hock, we set to work making Cabbage and Egg Noodles with Pork. When we sat down to dinner that Sunday night, we reveled in the simplicity of the dish. The easy of making it, the simple ingredients given deep flavor from the smoked ham and caraway seeds. It was undoubtedly “peasant’s food” of the best sort. The only problem is this: the recipe only calls for two pounds of chopped cabbage, so we’ve got a lot more cabbage to use! How do you use large quantities of cabbage?
- 1 large ham hock (or two small)
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 quart water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
- 2 pounds cabbage, cut into large, bite-size chunks
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 8 ounces egg noodles
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- Bring hock, broth and water to simmer in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, partially covered, until hock(s) and tender, about 1½ hours. Remove hock(s) and let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bone and pull into bite-size pieces. Pour broth into a 2-quart measuring cup and add enough water to equal 6 cups; set aside.
- Return pot to stove, and heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add cabbage and caraway seeds; sauté until for a couple of minutes and then add broth and pulled pork to the pot. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add noodles; continue to simmer until they are tender, 8 to10 minutes longer. Add vinegar; taste and adjust seasonings. Serve.