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Cabbage and noodles is a classic Eastern European dish. Poke around and you'll find recipes for Hungarian cabbage and noodles, Polish cabbage and noodles, not to mention Czech, Slovak, and so on, all with very few variations. And it's no wonder—it's a soothing, comforting dish made with inexpensive ingredients, requires very little clean-up, and goes from fridge to table in under half an hour.
Most recipes follow the same basic formula: sauté onions in lots of butter, cook down shredded cabbage, and then fold in cooked noodles. The buttery, soft braised cabbage is the perfect complement to slippery egg noodles. Often, salt and pepper are the only other flavors needed. It's the type of comfort dish that I crave when I want something satisfying and simple.
As solid as it is on its own, adding chicken takes this recipe from side dish to main meal. Ground chicken works best here—it finishes cooking alongside the cabbage, soaking up the flavorful liquid while remaining nice and tender. Since cabbage releases quite a bit of liquid as it cooks, it prompted me to wonder if I could simmer the noodles directly in this juice and turn this into a one-pot meal. The answer is yes, but since dry noodles are thirsty, I ended up needing just a bit of extra liquid. 1 1/2 cups chicken broth does the trick, and takes the chicken flavor up a notch.
If you've got homemade stock hanging around, now's the time to use it—it'll will work wonders here. Make sure not to overcook the noodles, since they'll continue to soften as the dish sits. The extra starch released from the noodles ever-so-slightly-thickens the wonderful fresh and brothy sauce.
As for seasoning, a sprinkle of salt and pepper is okay, but I wanted to perk it up a bit with some complementary flavors: a tiny amount of aromatic caraway seeds adds a touch of sweetness, and a handful of chopped parsley balances it out with freshness. With a very modest amount of butter (only 3 tablespoons), the flavor is clean and fresh, which I like. To richen it up, simply add more butter or stir in a few tablespoons of sour cream. So tasty and satisfying, this easy dish proves that you don't need to turn the flavor dial up to 10 for a meal that shines.
About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of the new cookbook One Bowl Baking: Simple From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts (Running Press, October 2013), and available at Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Powell's, The Book Depository. Watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. Follow her Chocoholic, Chicken Dinners, Singapore Stories and One Bowl Baking columns on Serious Eats. Follow Yvonne on Twitter as she explores Singapore.