Kapusta is a type of cabbage stew made with sauerkraut as well as regular cabbage. There are many different recipes for Kapusta and they vary widely in content. Sue Gale gave a quart of her Kapusta to Janet and me and we were quite impressed. Neither of us had eaten it before. In a word, it is Yummy!
I decided to add Kapusta to Food Nirvana as it is so different from the other soups/stews in Food Nirvana in character and taste. The recipe below is a composite of different recipes from the Internet that I put together, tried and adjusted. I like it just the way it is shown below ... So be it. Kapusta is at it's best the day following making it as the various ingredient flavors have had time to develop and combine.
One of the missing pieces of information in the Internet recipes is the need to skim melted fat from the surface of the Kapusta after the two hour simmering process. The kielbasa and the bacon contribute the fat, and about 3/4 of a cup of fat can be removed, leaving just a bit for flavor.
1 large onion, chopped into pieces about 1/2" by 1/2"
1 large or extra large head of cabbage, chopped into pieces about 1 1/2" by 1 1/2"
1 large can or package of sauerkraut
8 slices of bacon
2 pounds of smoked kielbasa
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper
6 large cloves of garlic, chopped
Steam the chopped cabbage in one pint of water in a large six quart pot, covered, until it has softened. Do that by heating on high heat until the steaming starts and then reduce the heat to very low and let the cabbage soften for about ten to fifteen minutes, checking the water after ten minutes to assure the pot isn't going dry. Add water if necessary during the steaming.
While the steaming is happening fry the bacon in a skillet, remove it, crumble it and set it aside.
Sauté the chopped onion in the bacon drippings on medium high heat for about five minutes. When the onion is becoming translucent, add the chopped garlic and continue the saut&ecute; for about two minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat and remove the sautéed onions and garlic to a bowl.
Save the remaining bacon drippings in the skillet to use later to lightly fry the smoked kielbasa.
At this point the cabbage steaming should be complete. The softened cabbage is now ready to have the other ingredients added.
Put the onion, sauerkraut, garlic, crumbled bacon, caraway seed, salt and pepper into the large pot with the steamed cabbage. Press down and then add enough water to barely cover the contents. Mix well.
Bring the contents of the pot to a boil on high heat and then to a simmer on very low heat, covered.
While the other ingredients are heating for simmering, cut the smoked kielbasa to remove the casing. Cut it lengthwise in half, remove the casing by pulling it off and discarding it, and then cut each kielbasa half into small pieces about 1/2" wide.
Take approximately 1/3 of the kielbasa chunks and process them through a meat grinder. Set the ground kielbasa aside.
Lightly fry the smoked kielbasa chunks in the bacon drippings on medium heat, moving them around with a spatula during frying until they are lightly browned over some of the exterior. Remove the fried kielbasa chunks to a plate. Now lightly fry the ground kielbasa.
Add all of the fried smoked kielbasa to the Kapusta, mix well, cover and simmer for two hours.
After the two hour period of simmering is done, remove the pot from the heat to begin to cool the Kapusta to room temperature.
Use a ladle to skim the melted fat from the top of the Kapusta. Press the ladle down into the Kapusta just far enough to have it fill slowly with liquid, then empty the ladle into a two cup measuring cup. Repeat the process of pressing the ladle into the Kapusta but always in different locations so as to cover the entire top surface of the Kapusta. When about 1 1/2 cups of melted fat and broth have been collected in the measuring cup then skim the fat from the measuring cup and pour the remaining liquid back into the pot of Kapusta. Stir the Kapusta and let it rest for about five minutes. Then repeat the skimming process. That will eliminate almost all of the melted fat.
Taste the Kapusta while it is cooling after the melted fat has been removed, and if necessary add more salt and/or more pepper and mix it well into the Kapusta. Taste again and adjust if necessary.
After the Kapusta has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate it overnight in the pot, covered.
Reheat the Kapusta the next day and serve it along with a hearty bread, like pumpernickel or seeded rye.
Leftover Kapusta freezes well for later use. I vacuum seal mine before freezing.