Pork Shoulder Kapusniak

The snow keeps piling up outside and there’s nothing like a nice warm bowl of soup. Traditional comfort food for warming you up after a day of shoveling. Well, this soup is a modification of my friend’s grandmother’s Polish Kapusniak. It’s a hearty soup traditionally made with pork spare ribs and sauerkraut. I make mine with less expensive chunks of pork shoulder and non pickled sauerkraut (as known as cabbage). I like to get the pork shoulder chunks with a good percentage of fat to meat, but if the pork you get is a bit on the lean side, you can add a few rashers of bacon. So…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage shredded
  • 3 large carrots cut in chunks
  • 2 rings of celery cut in chunks
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 large Long Island potatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 quarts of water

In a large dutch oven braise the pork over a medium heat. Once a good deal of fat has been rendered, deglaze with a little water. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for a few minutes. Add the cabbage and the potatoes. Start pouring in the water and turning down the heat to low. Add the tomato paste, paprika, salt and pepper.

Let the soup cook on the low heat for two hours. This gives all the ingredients time to meld, and starches from the potatoes ill help to thicken the soup. Ladle this into nice big bowls, and serve with fresh pumpernickel bread. Then watch the snow outside.


Bill’s Secret Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage, how often am I asked about corned beef and cabbage? Around this time it’s all the time. Bill, what’s your secret? They all seem to ask. Me, I just quietly hold on to these delusions of grandeur. But, to be honest, I do employ a few ‘tricks’ learned over the years. I suppose I have learned more about cooking this holiday meal because I cook it often. I don’t treat this like a once-a-year thing, no sir. I’ll be making this several times through out the year.

One ‘trick’ to successful corned beef and cabbage is using the right cut. The brisket has two halves, the front or flat-cut, and the point-cut. You could use either, but I prefer the flat-cut because of its uniform shape. This makes slicing easier. The point-cut end of the brisket is the cut I usually use for bar-b-que.

Another ‘trick’ is keeping the core on the cabbage. Many people who use cabbage usually use it in recipes that call for shredding cabbage. So, they are use to first cutting out and discarding the tough core of the cabbage. This is a not so with corned beef and cabbage. I keep the core intact to hold the leaves of the cabbage together.

Another ‘trick’, more of a tip really, is the cooking itself. I cook the meat separate from the potatoes, onions, carrots, and cabbage. One final trick (I don’t want to give them all away, save a couple for next year) is the one I learned from my Dad – timing.

So lets get on with the cooking –

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) corned beef brisket roast, rinsed, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 cup Duck Walk white wine
  • 6 cups water
  • 12 carrots, peeled (3 chopped, 9 halved crosswise)
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds long island potatoes

First heat oven to 300 degrees. Put the corned beef, wine, water, chopped carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, and allspice in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook for about 4½ to 5 hours.

Transfer meat to a large baking dish. Strain cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a large bowl and skim fat from liquid. Pour a cup or so of this cooking liquid over the meat. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 30 minutes.

Now, return the remaining cooking liquid to Dutch oven, add butter, and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and simmer until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Now, add onions, then add carrot halves and then add the cabbage. Do this such that the potatoes and onions are at the bottom in the water and the carrot and cabbage are above that water line (this lets the potatoes simmer while the carrots and cabbage steam). Cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer vegetables to serving platter and season with pepper to taste. Transfer the meat to the carving board and cut in ¼ inch slices against the grain. Put the meat on the platter with the veggies and bring it to the waiting mob at the table.

Smithwicks Red Cabbage

Smithwick’s is an Irish red ale style beer from Kilkenny in Ireland. Smithwick’s is listed in the top five best tasting beers by the McHale beer rating club of Ireland. And if you can’t trust an Irish beer drinking club on matters of taste, who can you trust, Tim Gunn?

Well if you happen to find yourself just sitting around with a bottle of Smithwick’s and a head of red cabbage, then you have the makings of a great side dish, and you even get to drink half that bottle.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 bottle of Smithwick’s Irish Ale
  • 1 head of red cabbage shredded
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 granny smith apples chopped
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 tablespoon currant jelly
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Cook the bacon till crisp and set on a paper towel. Add the onion and apples to the bacon drippings and saute. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked apples and onions to the cabbage, currant jelly, caraway seeds, and half a bottle of Smithwick’s. Combine gently and transfer it to an ovenproof casserole dish and pop it in the oven. Drink the other half of the bottle (it’s part of the ‘clean-up’ process so, cheers!).

Cook the cabbage for about 40 minutes.

Smithwicks Ale