Grünkohl, or kale, is a typical North German winter meal. Soon after the first frost Restaurants will announce traditional all-you-can-eat ‘Grünkohl’ arrangements in the local papers.
A real Grünkohl meal consists of at least two kinds of different pork meats and a special sausage, the highlight of the meal. The meat that is boiled with the Grünkohl is usually some Kassler, a salted (cured) and mildly smoked pork meat, some belly of pork, and Schweinebacke, meat from the pig’s cheek. It is also salted and smoked and, at least in my opinion, neglectable, as it tends to be kind of rubbery and tasteless.
Grünkohl is served with potatoes, as most North German dishes. However, you can get special potatoes just for Grünkohl. They are very small, and after boiling they will be fried or roasted in butter. They taste a bit more sweetish than ordinary sprouts.
Now, each region in North Germany has its own special sausage for Grünkohl. Around Bremen you will have ‘Pinkel’, a very rough, spicy sausage, Kohlwurst (‘cabbage sausage) is served in Schleswig – Holstein, and Bregenwurst in Northern Saxony.
Having grown up in Northern Saxony I like Bregenwurst best, of course. ’ Bregen’ is the Low German word (Plattdeutsch) for brain, and in the old times, when nothing was wasted after slaughtering, brain was an important ingredient. These days you can eat the sausage without being afraid of BSE, it is not allowed to use brain any more.
Last Sunday my 77-year old mother invited the family to a traditional ‘Grünkohlessen’, and, oh, I really, really loved it. She is growing her own cabbage in the garden and it is a lot of work to clean and cut the cabbage for so many people. But honestly, nobody is able to make it as good as she does, so thank you, Mam, for making this for us! It was a real treat!