Cabbage is Cheap and the Stir-Fry is Easy

Post-St. Patrick’s Day and the cabbage is cheap. And cabbage one of the star ingredients for household favorite: kielbasa, cabbage and potato stir fry.  Guess what’s for dinner?

Though not technically a classic stir-fry, that’s what I call the cooking technique for this meal because I cook it fast, in one pan, on high heat, and throw the ingredients in one at a time. High heat and moving fast makes it pretty much a stir-fry in my book. If I turned down the heat just a scooch and slowed down, I might call the dish kielbasa, cabbage, and potato skillet, as you can find this recipe called with a google search. Both techniques work great.

By the way, whenever I think of “skillet” in the title of a recipe, I always think of my childhood dinners of Hamburger Helper and the classic Hamburger Skillet, but technically, any meal completely made in a skillet or a frying pan can be called a skillet. Yes, there is a difference in cookware terms as skillets have sloped sides and frying pans have straight sides. They have different purposes. Know your tools!

This recipe is Polish because of the kielbasa, but you can use any sausage. I’d like to think the Germans who used to live in my neighborhood at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th centuries made something similar with German sausage. I hope their ghosts are pleased to see the pork, cabbage, and potato combo still being cooked and consumed. Because of the local German influence, sometimes I bastardize the whole Polish recipe by tossing caraway seeds (quintessentially German) in with the onion. That makes the dish an international melange, if you will.

Ingredient assemblage here is easy, as three of the four main ingredients are mentioned in the title. The other “major ingredient” meaning one that needs prep, is an onion. Sadly, to an onion fan like myself, onions don’t get top-billed named recognition in as many recipes as they appear in. We just take them for granted. Onions are key to this (and many recipes even if they don’t get a shout out).

Time to cook. Chop onion, toss in a hot skillet with a little oil. Cut sausage into slices (I cut the slices in half so eaters have an easier time). Toss sausage in the pan with the onions. Stir it occasionally, as you peel and cube potatoes. Hey, if you don’t feel like peeling the spuds, don’t. Throw ‘em in the pan. Stir. This would be a great time to add a little salt and pepper. Cut the cabbage coarsely. Toss it in the pan. Add some water, stir. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover. Grab a beer or some red wine. Have a sip. Uncover the skillet, squirt in a mustard you like, (yellow, grainy, or dijon if you want to give France a shout-out), adjust seasoning, give it a final stir. Make sure the potatoes are cooked. You’re the cook, go ahead and pluck out a piece of kielbasa while you’re at it. Then, serve.

How much of each ingredient? One onion (two if they are small), 1 pound of kielbasa, 3 or 4 russet type potatoes, ½ head of green cabbage. Double it if you have a crowd. Measurements are all to taste.  It’s okay to cry with joy when you eat it.

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