Location: Catskills + Germany
Person: Kurt, my best friend
Recipe: Rothkohl, German Red Cabbage
We had another snowstorm in New York the other night. Bad news for a lot of people, but great news for the Couchsurfing Cook because it’s a perfect lead in for me to share my recent snowy Christmas adventure couchsurfing in the Catskills with my best friend Kurt.
Technically I wasn’t couchsurfing, just visiting, but when you’re staying with a guy who owns three goats, three dogs, two cats, and a mess o’ chickens, it’s more than likely all the beds will be taken and you’re just as likely to find yourself curled up on the divan as nestled under a blanket in a bedroom.
Kurt’s been my best friend since the first hour I moved to New York City 11 years ago when our dogs met in the park in Williamsburg and we realized we knew each other from a dog run in Chicago where we’d both formerly lived. Kurt’s also one of the most talented people I know. He’s an architectural designer, furniture maker, farmer, gardener, marathon runner and, most importantly for us, a great cook, the kind who never opens a cookbook yet can still prepare an Oktoberfest for 50 without blinking an eye. In short, I hate him…and he’s my best friend.
The funny thing about our friendship though is that while he’s off-the-boat German and I’m Jewish, it’s never been an issue between us (though sometimes I do get upset when he orders me to wash the dishes after one of his fetes).
But when his Christmas party this year consisted of him and three Jews, I thought it was an occasion worth documenting for posterity.
Luckily, in addition to being a fabulous cook, Kurt’s also a great sport who was kind enough to share with me his recipe for Rothkohl, German red cabbage. The New York Times health writer Tara Parker Pope lists cabbage as one of the 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating. So start those New Year’s Resolutions now! Eat your cabbage! Or Kurt and I will get VERY, VERY ANGRY!!
Just kidding… : )
And check out the video to see what happened when a German and three Jews celebrated Christmas together:
Servings: 8 as side dish
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 1/2 hours
1 medium to large head red cabbage
2 Granny Smith apples
1 medium-sized yellow onion
1 Idaho potato
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1 cup dry red table wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
approximately 1/8 cup whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon each salt and pepper or to taste
1. Peel outer skin from onion. Push whole cloves into onion, spacing evenly apart to cover onion entirely. Set aside.
2. Peel apples. Cut in quarters. Remove seeds and center core. Cut each piece in half again. Set aside.
3. Skin and coarsely grate potato. Set aside.
4. Rinse cabbage under cool water. Pat dry. Remove outer leaves.
5. With large kitchen knife, cut cabbage in half. Remove tough end and inner white core. Cut each half into long 1″ wide strips. Cut strips in half again and separate into chunks.
6. On stovetop over low heat, melt butter in large, deep saucepan. Add cabbage and stir. Cover and allow to cook until cabbage is slightly softened. Approximately 5-7 minutes.
7. To cabbage add red wine vinegar and stir to combine.
8. Place spiked onion in pot.
9. Add bay leaves and green apples.
10. Add potato, first squeezing out excess liquid potato starch.
11. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix ingredients with wooden spoon to combine letting onion remain whole.
12. Raise heat to medium. Cook cabbage covered approximately 10 minutes until apples begin to break apart.
13. Remove cover. Stir to loosen cabbage from pan. Lower heat and add red wine. Stir to combine.
14. Allow to cook covered one hour over low heat until very soft, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent cabbage sticking to pan.
15. After an hour, remove bay leaves and onion.
16. Serve hot. Tastes better eaten days later and can be frozen to keep for up to a month.