Today is my mom’s 70th birthday. A great milestone, to be sure, and even better is the fact that she looks at least ten years younger than she is. I chalk it up to good genes – genes I’m happy to have! She got them from her Mom, Louise, who was the daughter of Hungarian immigrants.
Both my parents are half Hungarian, and my last name is an anglicized variant of Bajusz. They grew up on the south coast of Connecticut which had a large Hungarian community, so of course some of the recipes from the Old Country managed to survive through the years. Cabbage & Noodles is one of them – a delightfully hearty dish of buttery noodles, with soft, sweet cabbage and onions.
One of my favorite treats that my grandma would bring with her when she visited us in Virginia was a tasty sausage she would get at her local Hungarian butcher that we called Hootkie. Having done extensive searches online I haven’t been able to find it, but it’s likely what is commonly called Hurka – a sausage made from organs, rice and onions. It may sound disgusting, but it’s truly a delight.
Another family favorite was Cabbage & Noodles, known in Hungary as káposztás tészta. It’s simple peasant fare: cheap, flavorful, easy to prepare, filling, and perfect for cold winter weather. My mom learned to make it from her family’s next door neighbor, Mrs. Christie. She and her husband were also Hungarian, and like second grandparents to her.
Growing up, Cabbage & Noodles was one of those dishes I’d ask for all the time, and having now made it over the years for lots of potlucks, it’s a recipe people always request. It’s usually served with some kind of sausage, like Hurka. But, seeing as how there aren’t many Hungarian butchers around anymore, I settle for some Kielbasa or Smoked Sausage to round out the meal. It’s great by itself though, and one of those dishes where the leftovers are even yummier the next day served warmed up or even cold, straight out of the fridge.
Even though it’s far from fat-free, and with the egg noodles is also carb-laden, I hope you’ll give it a try on a cold winter’s night. It’s like a warm comforting hug from your Mom. So, I’m sending a big hug with this recipe out to mine. Love you, Mom!
- 1/2 head large green cabbage, sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1/2 C. butter, 1 stick
- 2 1/2 Tbs. sugar
- 2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
- In a large sauce pan, melt the butter on Medium heat.
- In a large pot boil water for the noodles and cook as directed on the package.
- Peel and slice the onion and add to the melted butter. Sweat the onions, just until they become translucent but don’t start to brown.
- Slice the half-head of cabbage. Make a cut down the middle, making sure not to cut through the core. Then slice the cabbage all the way up to the core, making ribbons of cabbage approximately 1/4 wide. Add to the sauteed onions and butter.
- Mix the cabbage and onions together with the sugar and salt, then cover the pan to let the cabbage steam and sweat down. Give them a stir every once in a while to make sure nothing starts to brown. You want to basically wilt the cabbage until it becomes nice and soft.
- Once the cabbage is cooked down, put the drained egg noodles back in the pot you boiled them in and add the cabbage mixture. Give it all a good stir to fully incorporate the cabbage into the noodles, and serve.
Note: Some people add bacon to the cabbage and noodles. If you choose to add it, chop the bacon and sautee in the pan first until it’s nice and crispy. Then add the butter and onions, and proceed with the recipe as directed. Also, be sure to save the other half of your cabbage for another dish. I use mine to make a tasty Cabbage and Beef Casserole, it’s like Stuffed Cabbage without all the work of actually stuffing cabbage leaves. I’ll be sure to share that recipe soon!