Okay, here’s another weird one. Kalpudding, eh? Yet there it was, front and center in the New York Times magazine. I’ve tried Sam Sifton’s recipes before—some I’ve loved and adopted, others left me puzzled.
Since I’d never heard of this dish, I did some research online. Oh, look, there are lots of recipes for it! It’s Swedish. The word “kal” is supposed to have one of those little circle things over the “a”, so it’s pronounced “coal.” That means cabbage. But the rest of the name—the “pudding” part—is misleading, because it’s really a meat loaf with cabbage on top.
And you must keep an open mind, because the first thing you do is cook the cabbage in butter and molasses. Yes, molasses. Never would have thought of that.
Swedish Kalpudding (inspired by Sam Sifton)
2 Tblsp plus 1 tsp unsalted butter
1 head green cabbage (abt 3 lbs), cored and shredded
3 Tblsp molasses
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 lb ground beef
3/4 lb ground pork
1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 Tblsp bread crumbs
1/3 cup chicken or beef stock
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When it starts to foam, add the cabbage and molasses, lower the heat to medium, and sprinkle with salt. Cook slowly, stirring often, until the liquid that the cabbage produces has evaporated and the cabbage is caramelized (20-25 minutes). It should be uniformly brown (but not burnt!)
|Pork and beef combined|
|plus dry ingredients|
|plus all the rest of the ingredients|
While the cabbage is cooking, mix the meats in a large bowl (do not overmix), then add the onion, cream and bread crumbs and combine loosely. Again, don’t overdo the mixing part, or you’ll end up with a brick.
When the cabbage is done, add about one-third of it to the meat mixture and mix. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and transfer the meat mixture into it, smoothing the surface. Spread the rest of the cabbage of the top, pour the stock over it, place it in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cabbage is very caramelized.
|It came out of the pan!|
Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. None of the recipes tells you whether to scoop it out or try to slice it. I sliced, but a lot of online pictures show it scooped out with a spoon. This is not a fancy dish!
Some people include rice in the mix. Others throw in spices like chili flakes (really? it’s Swedish!). Garlic is optional. Various sites suggested a traditional Swedish sauce using lingonberries, but I wasn’t ready to face molasses and lingonberries in the same dish (even though I like lingonberries). Serve it with boiled potatoes.
Do you know, I liked it. The sweetness from the molasses doesn’t hit you in the face, and it kind of rounds off the flavor of the two meats. It’s not very fussy to make, as long as you don’t mind stirring a pan of cabbage for a while. It reheats well. I might actually make it again.