Kale, a typical autumn and winter vegetable, is part of Germany's cultural heritage. Conventional kale is harvested from September. We, on the other hand, always wait for the first ground frost until it lands on our map. The frost causes the cabbage – some also call it brown cabbage or cabbage – to taste sweeter, more intense and simply better. It is usually served with Mettwurst, Kassler, fried bacon or black pudding. With its sweet acidity, the kale goes perfectly with smoked sausage and mustard.
If you like it less rustic and more elegant, you can serve it with fish dishes, such as turbot, with a light white wine mustard sauce. An excellent dish. Note: kale does not always call for fatty sausage. And so to the basics – the perfect preparation of kale. For four people you need 1.2 kilos of kale, without the stalk, only the leaves, well washed and trimmed. Put the cabbage in boiling salted water for two minutes (technical term: blanch). Then shock him in ice-cold salted water; a trick to preserve color and consistency. After that, dry the leaves on kitchen towels and cut them into cubes.
Next you need: 350 grams of smoked bacon from your local butcher. Ask him to run the bacon through the meat grinder (unless you have one at home). 250 grams of finely diced onions. 150 grams of pork lard. 80 grams of oatmeal. Two tablespoons of medium hot mustard. 500 grams of meat stock, from beef or poultry. salt, pepper, brown sugar.
Place a wide saucepan on the stove (medium heat), add the lard, then the onions and bacon. Drain the bacon while stirring constantly. Stirring is important, otherwise the bacon will burn. Now put the cabbage in the pot and sauté, then the broth and the oatmeal. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Add some mustard, put the lid on and simmer over medium heat for 40 minutes. Use the time to peel 400 grams of floury potatoes and cut them into cubes two by two centimetres. When the cabbage has simmered for 25 minutes, add the diced potatoes. When the 40 minutes are up, remove the lid and let the cabbage and potatoes cook for another 20 to 30 minutes over low heat. Taste according to how you like it. Is your dish too runny overall? No problem, then tie it off with some cornstarch.
Very important: Do not eat the kale on the day you prepared it. Instead, once it's done cooking, let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate. It should be two or three days before you eat it. Kale is like stew: it needs its standing time. After two or three days, the taste is really round and intense. If you have any leftovers, reheat them the day after—reheated kale tastes best. It's perfect when you've reheated it two or three times. Then all the aromas have fully developed.
Walter Stemberg and his son Sascha run the "Haus Stemberg" restaurant in Velbert, whose star was confirmed in the "Guide Michelin" for the ninth year in a row. The Stembergs write about the basics of cooking in WELT AM SONNTAG. All episodes online: www.welt.de/kochschule