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Boat Heaven - Boat Heaven

One pot cabbage and corn beef on board

May 25th 2007 20:12
One pot corned beef and cabbage: Captain Cook was one of the first English captains to convince his crew of the advantages of eating copious quantities of sauerkraut to keep scurvy at bay. Many captains prior to his famous voyages knew of the advantages of fresh fruit and vegetables in helping cure scurvy and the German, Dutch & Russian navies and merchant fleets were virtually scurvy free due to the national passion for sauerkraut and the ease of storing it on board as a vegetable. It is a known fact that during Nelson’s time the English fleets lost only 10% of their men to cannon casualties. 90% were lost to disease and on board accidents.


So how do we in today’s modern recreational fleets adapt sauerkraut and salt horse (corned beef or pork) to make a meals for the hearty sailors. I am fond of “one pot does all” and I go back to my roots and my sainted mother’s kitchen (with wood fuel stove) and her way of making Southern Estonian Sauerkraut & chicken. Cabbage, sauerkraut, potato, carrots all in one pot for hours on the hob of the stove, yummmm.

So what has sauerkraut got to do with corned beef and cabbage? Sauerkraut is pickled cabbage. The commercial varieties available today are mostly tinned, jarred or sold by the kilo from the deli. Too sour for our taste generally. So the idea is to mix an equal amount in volume of fresh cabbage to make it more palatable. Change it as you please once you have tried it. Using corned beef instead of chicken (or any white flesh) is my adaptation for boating as the left over beef is used sliced for salad or sandwiches. By all means use the sailor’s term of calling it salt horse though your butcher might not be so appreciative of the joke.

One tin of Edgell’s sauerkraut. (I’m used to the brand). Half a head of small cabbage shredded or sliced thin. Whole new potatoes skin on or any waxy style will do. If using the unwashed potato you will need to peel it and cut it to serving size. Whole carrots cut into quarters long ways. A green apple diced is nice but not required. Bayleaf, peppercorns, cloves and salt to taste. The sauerkraut and salt horse has a good amount of salt already so don’t add salt till toward the end of the cooking. A piece of fresh corn beef ready to cook. This will be around one to one and half kilo if bought from a supermarket butcher but a stand alone butcher gives you better choices.


Pick a nice big pot and chuck everything in add a cup or so of water and bring it slowly to the boil. Now it is just a matter of adjusting the flavour with salt and allowing the veggies to cook. The salt horse or corn beef will take around an hour or so on low heat. Do not rush this dish. No need to sit it on the hob like my mum did for hours and hours as she was using a fuel stove. Other vegetables you could add are peeled thick sliced turnip, parsnip and sweet potato. (not so good for pumpkin though it could be added toward the end of the cooking time.

This is a big strong flavoured dish and from the moment you buy a tin of sauerkraut the local blowflies will be stalking you so make sure your cabin is bug proof. Not suitable for sissy little white wines it needs a good bodied wine or frothy ales.

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