Today I make one of my standards.

My spice drawer

I cut fresh pork belly into chunks and fry it in vegetable oil with sliced onions. Caraway seeds and bay leaves are added from my spice drawer. (I love my spice drawer, which I’ve filled with the collection of jars I bought from Lakeland a while ago. I’m disappointed that they no longer carry these attractive little stackable acrylic jars.)

Sauerkraut and foreign flavourings

The other store cupboard contributions to this recipe are sauerkraut which, although ancient (soft and rather orange) tastes fine for this recipe, and some powdered veg stock that I think I bought on a self-catering holiday in Split, Croatia (see left). I seem to have made quite a collection of this type of product during my attempts to visit the complete set of former Yugoslav nations and cook their way while there. Are you beginning to get a sense of the extent of my collecting bug?!

To continue, the final ingredients are fresh sliced white cabbage and your choice of cured pork product. I’ve used an air dried pork salami this time, bought some time ago from LIDL. In the past I have used those German sausages that come in a horseshoe shape and can be boiled in the bag. Another option is chopped gammon steaks or pancetta. In each case you’ll want to choose an appropriate time for adding them to the recipe: frying them with the fresh pork at the start or adding them after the stock. Also, some of these products are more fatty than others, which should lead you to amend the balance with the other ingredients.

My own recipe pork and cabbage stew

I put a half glass of white wine in with the stock this time, Galloping Gourmet style, from the glass I am drinking from. Do you remember Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, one of the first and best TV cooks? It dates you if you do and if you don’t you need to know that partaking of a glass of something while cooking was key and rather exciting part of his shows. I have looked him up and he is still with us, it turns out, unlike the wonderful and rather similar Keith Floyd, who died before his time. I’ve looked him up now too, and realise that it wasn’t the drink that killed him. But at the time of cooking I do pause for a moment or two to consider how many glugs should go in my cooking and how may glugs should go in me! Both those things.

It may not make much difference at which point you add your cured pork product because this is a nice long stew so the flavours combine well over time. I find it useful to taste the sauce quite frequently to make adjustments. It should not be necessary to add salt. Your cured pork product will be quite salty already and those powdered stock products are pretty salty too. But this is one of those personal make-it-up-as-you-go recipes, so carry on testing and tasting until you are comfy with it.

Although I think I probably built this recipe from the memory of a more sophisticated one from a book – one that probably includes sour cream and fresh dill – I feel it connects me to the part of my heritage that is in middle Europe – Austria and, as I have recently learned from links sent me by MyHeritage.com, Prague and Brno. But I think it’s the recipe from a book that tempts me to serve this with tagliatelle.