Celebrate Oktoberfest with seasonal — also called “cheap” — produce, such as cabbage, which makes hearty, filling, tasty meals on a budget.
The first thing that comes to my mind (if not yours) is sauerkraut. Cabbage is dirt cheap this time of year, and you can make your own sauerkraut that will put anything you buy to shame.
In the olden days, you had to pickle the cabbage in pottery vats with a long-term brining process. And you still can do that, if you want to use Alton Brown’s method. It’s not necessary, though. Here’s an easy Dutch Oven Sauerkraut that was kitchen-tested for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. This recipe is not too sour and you can add salt to taste.
Dutch Oven Sauerkraut
- 2 lbs. green cabbage, shredded
- 2 yellow onions, grated
- 10 ounces to 1 lb. bacon (your favorite kind)
- 1 tsp. garlic, minced
- 6 juniper berries
- 1 tbsp. caraway seed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- Salt to taste (smoked salt, if available; if not, use kosher salt)
Heat oven to 250°F. On your stovetop, heat your Dutch oven on high heat. Add the bacon and cook until bacon starts to caramelize. Add the onions and garlic then sauté with the bacon until soft and translucent. Add the cabbage and sauté for 5 minutes to soften. Turn off the heat and remove from the burner. Add the seasonings, sugar and chicken broth and mix well. Cover and put into the oven. Stir once per hour and cook for six hours until soft, then season as needed with salt. If the mixture starts to dry out during cooking, check the oven temperature and add more broth as needed.
Now you have your homemade sauerkraut. The last few hours, you can throw in browned and seasoned pork ribs, if you like. Or add some kielbasa or other German sausage the last hour (if cooked) or two hours (if raw). You have a complete meal.
Use leftover sauerkraut (if there is any) on hot dogs or homemade Reuben sandwiches – get some rye bread, Swiss cheese and corned beef from the deli.
If you’re not a sauerkraut fan, perhaps you’d rather make sweet and sour red cabbage? Very German. There are lots of recipes on the Internet, but this one from Rachael Ray is quick and easy. Serve it with pork chops (bought on sale, naturally) and fried potatoes for a classic German meal that you can enjoy without paying restaurant prices.
Another classic German dish is stuffed cabbage rolls. Inexpensive ground meat (beef or turkey) and a filler of rice make the rolls a budget-friendly meal that will impress your family. They’re a meal in a pot. If you have a crockpot, see whether the recipe book that comes with it includes a version.
If you need a video on how to make cabbage rolls, go to Bing.com/videos and enter Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in the search box. Lots of options there, and more recipes.
Cabbage is so good for you: It’s naturally low in sodium, low-calorie, high fiber, gluten free, and high in Vitamin C.
We guess that means you can go crazy and quaff a beer with it. What’s Oktoberfest without a beer, after all?
Photo of cabbage rolls by Mister GC, freedigitalphotos.net.