Haluski Kapusta

Slavic Dumplings & Cabbage

I've always enjoyed making and eating "German dumplings," which my family calls spätzle [SHPAYT-zluh]. Several years ago my sister and bro-in-law moved to his hometown in PA where a dish called haluski [ha-LOO-shkee] is fairly popular.

Basically, haluski kapusta is/are a Slavic version of these dumplings mixed with cabbage. Sometimes locals make it with PennDutch egg noodles, but we like the use of authentic dumplings (even if we use wheat flour and not potato).

For this dish you need haluski, cabbage, kielbasa, onion, garlic, butter, beer, chicken broth, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Here's how we prepare and put the ingredients together.

1. Slice up some kielbasa and brown it. Most kielbasa available from the bigname grocery is already fully cooked, but browning adds good flavor.

We prefer a non-teflon pan, because it leaves a good fond to deglaze while caramelizing the onions later.

2. While the kielbasa is browning, slice an onion or two. You can dice a little of it, but mostly you want half-rings. You can also prepare some garlic, if you like.

3. Set the browned kielbasa aside and caramelize the onions in beer and butter. The pan should deglaze nicely. Add some brown sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Sugar helps the caramelization.

If you add garlic, as always, throw it in with the onions toward the end so it doesn't burn.

4. While the onions are caramelizing, chop up some cabbage; about 3/4's of a large head, or an entire smaller sized one. When the onions are done, set them aside with the kielbasa.

Cook down the cabbage, steaming it with some chicken broth (or else water). Add a little sugar here, and keep the cabbage al dente. We've heard that if you cook cabbage too long, it gets bitter. In any case, slight crunchiness is good for overall texture.

6. One of the particular features of this dish is its pepperiness. Add a "good amount" of fresh ground pepper (to your taste); add some ground white, red, and green peppercorn blend too, if you like.

7. When the cabbage is just about done, add the haluski / spätzle. (We made these the night before). We had to get a deeper pan here because I underestimated the collective amount. Obviously, we're not obsessive about precision.

Now return the onions and kielbasa to the mix, and stir. Be sure everything is at a good hot temperature for serving (meat and onions will have cooled while set aside).

9. Put it on a plate and enjoy with good people. Smacznego & Na Zdrowie !

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