When cooked properly, this typical Northwest German dish has a nice savory taste that complements the robustness of the sausages and potatoes that are served with it. It’s something you often see served at the Christmas markets around Germany. The variety of sausage you’ll get with it depends on the region and depending on where you are, you may even get a cut of smoked pork with it. There are countless recipes for Grünkohl, with each region having their own special ingredient or cooking method. The recipe is simple enough, although a little planning is needed since this curly kale stew needs to simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours for the flavors to fully develop.
Basically, you blanch curly kale leaves, then chop them up and simmer them in a broth consisting of onions, some schmalz (rendered pork fat–essential for the flavor!), along with smoked pork, and seasonings of salt, pepper and whatever your spice of choice may be, whether it be mustard seeds, allspice or bay leaves.Grünkohl will typically be served with smoked bacon, Mettwurst or Pinkel sausages (the exact recipe of these sausages differs from butcher to butcher and they like to keep their recipes secret!), or a salted smoked cut of pork called Kasseler. Or all four.
It may not be the prettiest of dishes and is considered an acquired taste for some, but personally I find it quite delicious. Enjoy!
German Grünkohl with Pinkel and Kochwurst
NOTE: active cooking time is 1 1/2 hours, plus about 30 minutes preparation beforehand.
1- 1,5 kg fresh curly kale Grünkohl, washed, stems trimmed off
4 EL schmalz (rendered duck or pork fat)
3 yellow onions, chopped
250 g piece of smoked streaky bacon (preferably cut with the rind from the butcher) (geräucherter Bauchspeck)
1 teaspoon raw cane sugar
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (or other medium spicy mustard)
2 cups beef broth (500 ml)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons fine cut oats
4 Kielbasa (Kochwurst)
4 smoked Kaszanka, also known as Groats sausage (Pinkelwurst)
750 g small boiling potatoes
1. Working in batches, blanch the kale in a pot of boiling lightly salted water for about 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kale to a large bowl of ice cold water; let cool, then drain. Squeeze out as much excess water as possible and transfer kale to a cutting board. Coarsely chop.
2. In a wok or very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of schmalz over medium heat, add the smoked bacon, cook for 3 minutes, then turn and add the onions. Cook for 3 minutes more, then add the kale.
3. Stir in the sugar, nutmeg, mustard and broth and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the oatmeal and stir until combined. Cook for 30 minutes more, adding more broth if necessary, so that the kale does not dry out.
4. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salt water. Boil for 15 minutes or until slightly tender, yet firm in the middle; drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel potatoes and set aside.
5. Cook the sausages in a large pot of boiling salt water for 15 minutes.
6. While the sausages are cooking, heat the remaining schmalz in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook, over high heat until the potatoes are golden brown; about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
NOTE: Remove the smoked streaky bacon piece from the pan with Grünkohl. Using a knife, separate the meat from the fat and mix it in with the kale. Discard the fat.
7. Serve the potatoes and sausages alongside the “Grünkohl”. Don’t forgot the mustard, you’ll want this for the sausages. Enjoy!