The first time someone mentioned Grünkohl mit Pinkel I was confused. Kale with piss? Was this a joke or a worrying culinary fetish? More importantly- was it even vegan?
My internal translator had obviously malfunctioned. I knew the Germans ate some weird things (see Saumagen, Eisbein etc.) but pee?
Turns out my poor German was to blame (and still is with alarming regularity). Pinkel, I know now, is a kind of smoked sausage, traditionally made with bacon, dripping and groats, and is eaten with kale during the winter months, especially in the northern part of Germany.
On my first visit to Bremen to meet the in- laws, I had my first taste of this famous meal and was instantly hooked. It’s salty and warming, smokey and hearty, and really the best cure for a hangover I’ve found yet. The most endearing thing was, my mother-in-law had sourced vegan Pinkel from a local butcher, and picked up vegan Kassler (traditionally a smoked cut of pork) and chorizo from the local health food shop so I would be able to try their local speciality.
Two years later and I’ve finally got around to making it (decently) myself. It’s so simple to do as everything is thrown in a pan and left to cook for an hour. Just enough time for me to sit down and improve my German*.
I only wish I knew of some local places serving a vegan version of this meal, so I could get a merry band of people together for a Kohlfahrt- a traditional winter walk fuelled by schnapps to a country pub for a slap up meal of Grünkohl. If you know of anywhere, let me know in the comments below!
Vegan Grünkohl mit Pinkel
1kg bag of frozen kale
Vegan bouillon as needed
4-6 tbsps Oat groats (more as needed)
2 onions either chopped or halved
1 tsp piment
1 each per person of : vegan Kassler (the meetlyke version is excellent in flavour and consistency); vegan Pinkel (can be found at some butchers if you can face going in); vegan chorizo
Boiled potatoes to serve.
1. In a large saucepan add the kale and half the pan of water. Add bouillon to taste and bring to boil.
2. Turn down heat and add salt, onions, oat groats and piment, and allow to simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally and checking to see if more water is needed. The eventual consistency should be like a thick stew, not too runny.
3. After about 30-45 minutes add the Kassler, Pinkel and chorizo and continue to cook.
4. It’s ready to serve when the oat groats are soft and the Pinkel is cooked through (if cooking from frozen this obviously takes a bit longer)
5. Serve with potatoes and mustard
*Just kidding. I was training my dog how to play dead…
Wishing you all a wonderful Woche!