Not your grandma’s haluski

I’m a sucker for haluski, the Eastern European comfort dish of cabbage and noodles. It’s an almost perfect midwest winter meal, incredibly adaptable and forgiving. It also reminds me of my best girlfriend’s mom, Julanne, who had a soft spot for all things Hungarian/Polish/Ukrainian: haluski, goulash, potatah pancakes, and her super-delicious city chicken.

Here’s haluski recipe I recently came up with when I found myself wanting it, but wanting to make it a bit more … modern? Me? Something a little different. I wanted something that:

  • Is heavier on the veggies, and lighter on the noods.
  • In my ongoing quest not to waste food, I wanted to use the Napa cabbage and Brussels sprouts hanging out in my fridge. (But, in the spirit of not wasting food—use whatever cabbage you’ve got. Let’s be honest, there’s always like 3/4 of a head of cabbage remaining after making almost any cabbage dish. Right?)
  • Jazzed things up a bit, with some spices beyond the traditional salt and pepper.

 

not your grandma's haluski recipe - cabbage and noodles with brussels sprouts and napa cabbageThe result is incredibly tasty! I found out that I love the combination of the meaty, coniferous Brussels sprouts paired with the softer, semi-mustardy Napa cabbage. Plus, the addition of mustard and caraway seeds adds some oomph both in flavor and texture. Last, my frequent doctoring friends soy sauce and vinegar lend a rich umami and create a well-balanced bite. In fact, this accidental combo may become my new haluski go-to.

How to make haluski (cabbage and noodles) with bacon

Ingredients

  • 4 strips bacon, chopped (If you’re veggie, just leave this out. I’ve done it many a time.)
  • 1 oz / 2 T butter*
  • 1 T yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 a large onion, sliced
  • Handful of Brussels sprouts (8 or so large ones?), sliced
  • Napa cabbage, sliced (I used probably 3/4 of a huge head I got our Korean/Pan-Asian market, Joong Boo.)
  • 1.5 t caraway seeds
  • Heavy splash of soy sauce
  • Heavy splash of apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s baby)
  • About 4 oz egg noodles, cooked (or cook them as you’re working with the rest of the dish)
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper (always)

Method

Heat a high-sided skillet (preferably cast iron) on very low heat, add your bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from the pan, to a towel-lined plate.

If your pan has too much bacon fat remaining, drain or wipe some out. I felt good about things so simply kicked the heat up to medium and added my butter.

Add the mustard seeds, stir, and let them sit until they start to pop. Immediately add the onion and Brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and cook. Crank the heat to medium-high and be sure to get some browned bits, but balance the heat so that the veggies are browned and also nearly cooked through.

At medium heat, add the Napa cabbage. You may need to do this in batches as it cooks down, adding a bit more salt and pepper to taste. At some point in here, add in your caraway seeds.

When the Napa cabbage is nearly done, taste your dish so far. At this point, I added some soy for salt and depth of flavor, and also a splash of cider vinegar to brighten things up a bit. (Adding vinegar to dishes that taste “flat” is something I learned by reading Ruhlman’s Twenty. This tip is a GAME CHANGER.)

When you’re happy with the flavor, add your egg noodles and stir to evenly distribute, then do the same with your parsley.

Serve and enjoy.

Haluski recipe amplifier: The all-mighty sausage

You can always, always add sausage to haluski if you’re looking for something a bit more substantial. Kielbasa is a no-brainer, but any non-crumbly, ideally Eastern European sausage will do. Smoked pork chops would also be nice. Or, go super midwestern and throw in some hot dogs or red hots. It’s your food. Use what you like (and what you’ve got hanging out in your freezer.)

* As always, measurements are approximate. I eyeball that isht. 

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