This creamy Wirsing (German savoy cabbage) makes for a comforting and delicious side dish. This family recipe is perfect to serve during special occasions such as Christmas or for Sunday lunches and dinners when the whole family comes together.
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I am so excited to share this recipe, which happens to be one of our favorite recipes during the colder months, so let's get to it!!
what is Wirsing?
Savoy Cabbage (Wirsing) is a vegetable with crinkled emerald green leaves that is named after the Savoy region in France. It is a popular side dish here in Germany, especially during the colder months. In terms of seasonality, it is a vegetable that is available throughout the year and its leaves tend to vary in appearance depending on the season. The winter savoy cabbage varieties tend to have leaves with a deeper green hue and a more intense taste, compared to the summer varieties.
Normally, each family has its own recipe; some cook it to a puree, some make it with cream, at times it is cooked to a casserole, alongside some cheese, and sometimes it is cooked with eggs or with minced meat, just to mention a few examples. Unlike the Frankische Art (Franconian style) of cooking Wirsing, this recipe does not involve cooking the cabbage to a puree; rather, it is sliced and cooked with cream and bacon. Sounds interesting? Then let's dive in!
This is a summary of the ingredients you will need to make this German savoy cabbage (Wirsing) recipe, as well as possible substitutions. You will find the detailed measurements, as well as the step-by-step instructions in the recipe card below.
- Vegetables - Wirsing, and a medium-sized yellow, red or white onion.
- Cooking oil - butter (or your preferred choice of vegetable oil).
- Some cubed bacon but you can totally skip this to make this recipe vegetarian.
- Dairy - heavy whipping cream (substitutable with regular or almond milk).
- All-purpose flour.
- Spices, seasoning, and condiments - beef or vegetable broth, salt, pepper, water (optional), and some nutmeg.
serving suggestions, refrigerating and freezing leftover savoy cabbage
Keep leftover Wirsing in airtight containers in the fridge for 3-5 days. You can also make it ahead and freeze it in suitable containers for up to 3 months, which is great, as you can still enjoy it even when it is not in season.
Serve Wirsing with Spaetzle (Southern German noodles), Rostbraten (a type of German roast), or Bratwurst. It also pairs well with boiled or mashed potatoes, as well as most noodle dishes.
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Wirsing German Savoy Cabbage
- 1 kg Wirsing (savoy cabbage), chopped, with the core removed. (approximately 2.2 lbs)
- 1 tablespoon butter (or your preferred choice of vegetable oil)
- 100 g cubed bacon (approximately 3.5 oz)
- 1 medium-sized onion (diced)
- 250 ml broth (vegetable, beef, or chicken broth)
- 200 ml heavy cream
- 1½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt (use more or less, to taste)
- ¼-½ teaspoon black pepper (use more or less, to taste)
- pinch of nutmeg
- Heat oil or butter in a pan and then add the diced onion and bacon. Allow the bacon to brown under low heat, stirring from time to time.1 tablespoon butter, 100 g cubed bacon, 1 medium-sized onion, 250 ml broth
- Add the broth, chopped Wirsing, salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Cover, and allow it to simmer under low heat for 15 minutes (see notes), stirring from time to time.1 kg Wirsing (savoy cabbage), chopped, with the core removed., ½ teaspoon salt, pinch of nutmeg, ¼-½ teaspoon black pepper
- In a small bowl, use a whisk to combine the heavy cream and all-purpose flour, making sure it is well combined and not lumpy.200 ml heavy cream, 1½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Stir in the heavy cream and flour mixture and allow it to cook for a further 5 minutes (stir in some water if the cabbage is sticking to the pot). Serve with Bratwurst, roasts, Spaetzle, or your favorite dishes.
- Cabbage tends to hide dirt between the leaves so make sure to remove the outer leaves, and properly clean your savoy cabbage.
- If you are concerned about maintaining the color of the leaves, then simply blanch them for a few minutes in hot, salty water, then dip them in an ice-water bath to cool.
- Cook your Wirsing for a shorter period (5-6) minutes, if you prefer it more crunchy.
- We sometimes like to make this recipe vegan and vegetarian. If you, like us, like to try out this variation then simply use margarine in place of the butter, almond milk instead of the cream, and dried tomatoes or mushrooms, in place of the bacon.
- As an optional step, you can add a pinch of baking soda (or Natron for those of you in Germany), to assist the leaves to maintain their color. This is an old-fashioned way of making this recipe that you can skip if you are concerned about the impact the baking soda will have on the nutritional value of your cabbage.
- Feel free to use sour cream or a combination of milk and cream, in place of the heavy cream.
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