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Braised Pork and Double Cabbage Meatballs

This may not sound like a very exciting dinner, but keep in mind that there is both sauerkraut and chopped cabbage in the meatballs, which are deliciously plump and juicy, and vodka, cream and horseradish in the sauce in which the meatballs braise. This looks like a very tranquil little dish, all off white and pale green, but it is jam packed with flavor.

According to my mother, serving it with braised cabbage was brassica overkill, so you may want to serve these with steamed potatoes or spaetzle instead.

This made 6 meatballs. I ate two for dinner and two heated up and stuffed into a toasted brioche bun with sauerkraut and mustard for lunch the next day. The other two are frozen for a date when I don't feel like cooking. Next time, I will make a full pound of ground pork and freeze 8 meatballs for future use.

For the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 cup very finely chopped Savoy cabbage

1/3 cup very finely chopped sauerkraut

1 piece of bread (though I knew that rye would be more authentic, I used brioche instead because that is what I had on hand)

2 Tbsps heavy cream

1 tsp caraway seed

Salt and white pepper to taste

For the braising liquor:

1/2 onion, peeled and sliced into crescents

1 cup of chicken stock

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsps heavy cream

1 Tbsp vodka

1 bay leaf

Salt and white pepper to taste

Remove the crust from the bread. Place it in a large bowl and pour in the cream. Set aside for the bread to soak up all the cream while you get on with the rest of the meatball prep by chopping the cabbage and the sauerkraut very finely.

Once the bread has absorbed most of the cream, squeeze it between your fingers and reduce it to bread crumb sized pieces. Add the pork to the bowl and mix well before adding salt and pepper and mixing further to combine well.

Add the caraway, cabbage and sauerkraut to the bowl and mix well to combine. I have found that using my hand is the best way to ensure that all the ingredients are well distributed throughout the mixture.

Form the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs without packing the mixture too tightly together. You want really fluffy meatballs, not dense ones. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. As soon as it is completely melted and starting to foam around the edges, add the onion and the bay leaf to the pan, along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is starting to soften, around three minutes.

Pour in the vodka, and stir to combine. Cook for an additional minute or so to cook off the alcohol before adding the chicken stock to the pan.

Bring to a boil, and add the meatballs to the pan. Lower the heat and cover the pan.

Cook undisturbed for 12 minutes before adding the cream, salt and white pepper to the pan and cooking, covering the pan again, for an additional three minutes.

You can serve as is, or remove the meatballs and raise the heat to high in order to reduce the sauce and thicken it.


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