By Steve Siciliano
It's tradition here at Siciliano's to treat our customers to German wieners and draft root beer on the Saturdays of our annual, week-long Customer Appreciation sales. There are many who would agree that nothing goes better with German wieners than homemade kapusta and for many years the kapusta that we served as a garnish for the locally sourced dogs was made by my late father Sam Siciliano.
Kapusta is the Polish word for cabbage and my father's version of this traditional Polish dish garnered universal praise. I'd like to think he came up with the kapusta recipe on his own but the more likely scenario was that he sweet-talked some lady who cooked in one of the Polish halls here in town into sharing it with him. I do know that he continually tweaked the recipe over the years and that his version of kapusta was decidedly unique.
Sam has been gone four years and there hasn’t been kapusta at our Customer Appreciation Days since his passing. This year my wife Barb and I decided it was time we revived that part of the tradition.
When I got home from the store last Friday Barb was already in the kitchen chopping onions and celery. I grabbed a big knife and a big wooden cutting board and began shredding the three big heads of fresh cabbage. I thought of my dad while I chopped. I could see him shredding the cabbage at the table in his small kitchen. I imagined him getting up every so often from his naps to stir and taste and tweak the seasonings. I remembered all the times I lugged the big roasting pan to my truck and how he would smile when I asked him how much of the kapusta he had eaten.
Barb and I got a lot of compliments for the kapusta last Saturday and more than a few customers asked if they could have the recipe. We made sure we told them whose recipe it was and that we were sure that Sam would would have been more than happy to share it with them. Here it is.
SAM SICILIANO'S HOMEMADE KAPUSTA
2 lbs sauerkraut, drained
¾ head of cabbage, shredded1 ½ cup onion, diced
½ cup celery, diced
2 bay leaves2 garlic cloves, minced
2 15-oz cans chicken brothpork steak, pork roast or spare ribs
3 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Saute onions, celery, garlic and pork in oil
Add drained sauerkraut
Add chicken broth, simmer 15 minutes
Add bay leaves, salt and pepper
Add shredded cabbage, simmer 1 hour
Add additional brown sugar to taste
Serve to friends with beer, brats, wieners, sausages and/or kielbasa