Cook once, eat for a week: German stews

Food Student Life

My favourite foods are kale, turnip and savoy stew, as they are foods that remind me of home. But they are also healthy, cheap, little work and last you a week.

In winter the traditional German kitchen is dominated by one-week stews. They are based on a vegetable that is hard or fibrous, like kale, turnip or savoy, which is then cooked for a very long time to make it soft and release its flavours. Day after day the stew gets better, so there is no danger to get sick of it during the week that it will last you. But just in case, it is also possible to freeze them.

All of these dishes contain meat, to contribute to the flavour of the stew and it is truly magnificent when all the ingredients combine to form one overwhelming flavour. However the amount of meat is rather small compared to the vegetable portion. For kale and turnip, traditionally cured and smoked pork loin is used, which is hard to get around here. Uncured meat, bacon or salami work just as well though. For savoy, minced or diced beef is used.

Here is what you do. On a Saturday morning fry the onion, add all ingredients to the pot, set it to the lowest heat and go back to bed. Leave the stew to cook for at least 3 hours but really the longer the better. You can then enjoy one portion per day and do not need to cook for the rest of the week. If you want to have some of the meat every day, make sure to always leave something in, so that the flavours can continue to combine. Or have a feast on Friday and eat vegetarian until then. Or if you are vegetarian, you can give the meat to a friend or leave it out, although I do not recommend that.german stew2

Traditionally all these stews are served with potatoes. This is because pasta and rice where unknown to northern Germany when these recipes evolved. I recommend you stick with that tradition because it is definitely a tasty one.

Kale: 1 onion, 1 kg kale in small pieces (use blender), 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp mustard, 1 hand full of oats, 2 steaks of pork loin or equivalent, salt, pepper. Cook potatoes separately.

Turnip: 1 onion, 500g turnip, 500 g potatoes, 200 g carrots, all veggies diced, 700 ml stock, 2 steaks of pork loin or equivalent, salt, pepper.

Savoy: 1 onion, 1 savoy cabbage (roughly 700g in stripes), 500 g potatoes (diced), 1 L stock, 300-500 g beef mince or diced, salt pepper. If you like add crème fraiche, muscat or caraway. If you use minced meat, fry it with the onions or roll it into little balls and cook it.

PHOTOS/ Hannah Behrens