My Cabbage Bredie, in the style of C Louis Leipoldt…

My Cabbage Bredie

C Louis Leipoldt was very circumspect when describing his recipes. His Cabbage Bredie from Kos vir die Kenner, roughly translates to “braise the meat, onions, chilis etc. Slice a head of cabbage very fine and add with pepper and salt. Let it cook slowly. When the meat is soft, add a few potatoes and a nut of butter. Cook until quite dry.” There is no way an average cook can work their way around it.

Trevor Emslie in his compilation of Leipoldt’s work, Leipoldt’s Food & Wine remarks, ‘’As is evident from the text, Leipoldt was not a stickler for precision measurement in the kitchen.’ How true.

Kos vir die Kenner, from which I took Leipoldt’s scanty recipe

My Cabbage Bredie
Serves 4

What you’ll need
325 gm tight head green cabbage, or a Savoy if you get lucky
Rio Largo Extra Virgin Olive Oil – my preferred oil
1.5 to 2kg lamb for stewing, like neck and ribs or sliced up shanks
2 onions, wedged [each half cut into 6 slices like an orange]
3 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 wine cork size piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 to 2 Bird’s Eye Chili, or ¼ to ½ tsp Chili Flakes
1 litre Lamb Stock – I use NOMU
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and quartered and boiled in salted water
Sea salt and freshly milled white pepper
finely chopped parsley for garnish

What you’ll do
Set the oven on 170C. Slice the cabbage finely [Leipoldt says ‘in rafeltjies’, thin strips] removing the hard stem parts and place in a large bowl and cover with a cloth while you prepare the remainder of the dish. Make a paper cartouche to cover the casserole, I usually use the lid as a guide. Boil the potatoes. In a suitable sized enameled cast iron casserole, pour a thin film of the olive oil and allow to heat over medium heat. Brown the lamb pieces, a few at a time, setting aside on a plate as you go, juices will collect which must be added back to the casserole later. Put the onion in the casserole and allow to get quite golden brown. Do this over low heat and allow time. When done, add the garlic and the chili or flakes and stir fry for a while. Return the meat and its juices to the casserole. Add the lamb stock.  Scrunch up the cartouche and put onto the lamb and put on the lid. I cooked it on a heat diffuser over low heat for 2 ½ hours. Remove the cartouche. Add the potatoes, and more liquid if you need to, pile the cabbage on top. Put the lid on and allow to simmer for 30 – 40 minutes until the cabbage is cooked. Test to see that the lamb is tender, it should be. Taste and reseason if necessary. Stir through before serving.

Serve with steamed Basmati Rice and a bowl of carrots, flavoured with a little honey or Dry Sherry.


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