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Monday, November 23, 2009
‘Grandma’s Kropetzl’ - a potluck recipe from the past...
A family recipe from the kitchen of Jonathan Fox
“Sense memory” is so strong that just a whiff of an old, familiar dish can send one reeling into the past. Such is the case with Grandma Helen’s Hungarian noodles and cabbage. Grandma has been gone a long, long time- but thanks to her ‘Kropetzl’ she will always live on... in our hearts, in our minds and in this case, in our stomachs!
There have been many special occasion over the years, that have required a delicious,covered, potluck dish. I find that holidays are, in particular, a perfect time to get out the family cookbook, leaf through the dog-eared pages and cook, cook, cook!
These days, only a lucky few have the wherewithall to conjure up a meal for the masses- and potluck has become more popular than ever. My grandmother’s special recipe, concocted in the old country out of ingredients found on the farm, has never failed me.
Cabbage, onions, noodles and spices are all that is required, so even at my most destitute, I have always been able to show up when invited, gigantic casserole in hand.
Herewith is Grandma Helen’s recipe, which I now serve in her own dinnerware, for your holiday feasts!
I don’t know how to make a small amount, so be aware that one can cut this recipe in half and still have enough to choke a horse.
The only ingredients necessary are:
three to four medium (or two very large) yellow onions. Two heads of cabbage. One and 1/2 boxes of Lasagna noodles. Salt and pepper.
Liberal use of butter is required. Remember, they didn’t live as long back then- but I would not substitute. Use the butter- your doctor will forgive you.
In a large pot, melt a stick of butter. Peel and chop (cry, if you must) the onions and slowly, lovingly, sautee the onions until they are very soft and begin to carmelize. (yes, it takes time- but if I can do it, so can you!)
Once this is accomplished, keep the onions on simmer and cut up the cabbage. It seems like a lot (because it is) but keep in mind that by the time you are done, the cabbage will have cooked down considerably. Add the chopped cabbage into the pot with the onions and cook the concoction slowly- on low/medium heat, stirring continually throughout.
While the cabbage is diminishing in volume (I did advise a large pot) put up a vat of salted water until it comes to a roiling boil. Adding a bit of oil to the pot will keep the noodles from sticking. Break the Lasagna noodles up with your hands into smaller pieces and boil according to directions, but keep in mind that you are using more than one package- and alter the cook time accordingly.
As the noodles are softening, continue stirring the onions and cabbage, slowly adding salt and pepper ( a little garlic couldn’t hurt) to taste. By this point, one should have a considerable amount of all three ingredients. Drain the noodles well (without rinsing) throw some more butter in the mix (what can I say?), add the lovingly prepared onions and cabbage to the pot. Stir, stir, stir, making sure that all of the noodles are drenched in the mixture. Taste. Add more salt and pepper until your taste buds come alive and head out to your party, confident that folks will think you’re a genius, rather than good old fashioned peasant stock.
My family has attempted substituting all sorts of noodles over the years. Stick to the plan, don’t ask why.
Serves 15-20 and tastes as good cold (the next day, or later that same night) as it does hot from the stove top. Serves the masses for pennies, which these days... really works for me!