savoy mess

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A savoy mess starts big – w/ this big big savoy cabbage – & finally becomes a soft, juicy mess of savoy, cream, meat balls, bacon & onion…


For the record:
In Germany we call this mess just „Durcheinander“ – (hotchpotch). The basis may be a savoy cabbage, however, it may also be a white cabbage or Brussels sprouts or carrots or kohlrabi… whatever vegetables are available – typically during autumn & winter. You may add some meat balls or just fried minced meat or any type of sausages as well as brisket of beef… (I won’t go down the road to any knuckles of pork or belly of pork or pig’s trotters or any whatever…) You may also skip the meat & use only some stock. In short: it’s a perfect dish for any grey rainy (or snowy) day.




Cabbage & me: we are not really friends, however, we are no enemies either. Most of the time I don’t prefer cooking any type of cabbage because it takes time. Cabbage isn’t the solution for homecoming from the office, hungry… & then preparing some dinner w/ help of cabbage. (Ok – if you just have to defrost & reheat any cabbage mess – it’s fine!) Nevertheless I think it’s the most underestimated comfort food around.

So I started thinking about how to prepare cabbage in a fast way… & I started w/ a real beautiful savoy cabbage.

What do we need?



We think of a simple approach:

  • a savoy cabbage w/ cream for the finishing touch
  • bacon & spring onions for the basic flavoring
  • minced meat mixed w/ breadcrumbs soaked in cream or milk w/ an egg… formed into small balls…
  • …& some spice: I made a try w/ garam masala (a mixture of primarily Indian spices).

The basic flavoring was a fried mix of hearty bacon, spring onions (or any other mild onion) in oil – w/ a pinch of garam masala.

Said & done. Chopped & fried.



Next step was frying the meat balls.

I had “half & half“ minced meat aka 50% minced beef & 50% minced pork. The breadcrumbs were soaked in cream – you may also use milk – until you get a soft mess. Add an egg, add 2 heaped tablespoons of the bacon-onion mess, some garam masala & knead it. Don’t forget some salt & pepper to taste. Finally form small meatballs (about 30!) & fry them in some oil. Turn them over to get them well done. Finally set aside the meat balls.


For the record:
You get it: we are working w/ a mess here & a mess there. The basic principle of „Durcheinander” is creating a mess existing of other „messes“!



For the record:
Maybe you’ve noticed from the photos: I’ve got a new pan. It’s a mineral coated pan heating up at once, needing almost no oil… & so far you only need a medium jet of water to clean the pan. Therefore in my recipe the amounts of oil are very low at the moment. (I hope it’ll stay so, but you never know…)


Another point:
I started w/ frying bacon & onions in the pan. Set aside the bacon-onion mess. Then I used the same pan w/o cleaning for the meat balls. This will continue… Next step will be the savoy in the same pan w/o cleaning… So you don’t need more than 1 pan & there is no in-between-cleaning necessary.


The savoy will lose all his outer leaves completely. Afterwards we rip apart all the inner leaves. Every now & then we cut off the end of the stem & discard it.



Afterwards in the process we take each of the leaves & cut it in the middle while cutting-out the big vein of the leave. The big veins will be discarded, too.

At the end there is a lot of discarded stems & leaves… I like to get my savoy soft rather quickly so I won’t deal w/ the stems of the cabbage as well as the veins of the leaves which are the real tough parts. Keep in mind that you’ll lose about 40% of the cabbage! (Therefore the savoy isn’t so intimidating as it seemed from the start!)



The remaining leaves will be roughly chopped & amount to a rather big mountain.



We start w/ our pan again & put in about 1/3 of the savoy mountain. Add some water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Heat it up & the leaves will collapse soon. (They won’t get mushy because we are dealing w/ savoy!)

Then add the bacon-onion mess & some garam masala & some more water & mix. Add the next batch of savoy & mix until the savoy collapses.

Finally it’s the last batch of savoy. When collapsing the water should have vanished until now. Add the cream & mix. Add the meat balls. Bring the cream to a boil. Ready.





savoy mess

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Servings: 4

savoy mess

Start with a savoy cabbage, take only the fine leaves, add onions and bacon and let it simmer... Some cream for the final finish and some meat balls make the savoy mess a full dish for lunch or dinner. Maybe add some crunchy baguette bread or even some plain cooked potatoes: it’s one of the best dishes for winter season!


    for the savoy:
  • 1 savoy cabbage (about 1,000 g becoming about 600 g after trimming)
  • about 250 ml water
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • a pinch of sugar
  • about 250 ml cream
  • salt & pepper
  • for the bacon:
  • 50 g South Tyrolean bacon (thin slices)
  • 6 spring onions
  • 1 tbsp oil (e. g. peanut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • salt & pepper
  • for the meat balls:
  • 400 g minced meat (50% beef & 50% pork)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
  • 6 tbsp cream
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • salt & pepper

How to...

  1. Chop the bacon & the spring onions.
  2. Fry bacon & spring onions w/ garam masala in the oil for about 10 min. (Don’t let it burn!)
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Set aside.
  5. In the meanwhile mix breadcrumbs & cream for the meat balls.
  6. Combine mix minced meat, egg, the breadcrumbs-cream mess, garam masala & 2 tbsp of the bacon-onions mess & knead until everything is well distributed & smooth.
  7. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  8. Make small meat balls & place them in the pan.
  9. Fry for about 10-15 min; the meat balls should be well done.
  10. Set aside.
  11. Discard all the outer leaves of the savoy cabbage (normally 2 layers of leaves).
  12. Discard the stem & free every leaf from its big vein.
  13. Chop all trimmed leaves.
  14. Add some water to the pan & start frying about 1/3 of the chopped savoy.
  15. Add the bacon-onion mess & the garam masala & a pinch of sugar.
  16. Mix well.
  17. When the savoy collapses add another 3rd of the chopped savoy & some more water.
  18. Mix well.
  19. ...& once again.
  20. After about 20-30 min the savoy should be soft & the water should be gone.
  21. Add the cream & mix well.
  22. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  23. Add the meat balls & mix carefully.
  24. Ready for serving.


Prep Time: It’s the trimming & chopping of the ingredients.

Cook Time: It’s the frying of the bacon-onion mess, the meat balls & the savoy - all done using the same pan w/o cleaning in between.

Savoy: I recommend only to use the leaves w/o the big veins. If you like to use the whole leave you should take into account that you’ll need more time for frying.

Cream for the savoy: Instead of 100% cream you may also use 50% cream & 50% milk. If you like more liquid in the final mess just add some more cream resp. cream-milk mix.

Breadcrumbs & cream: You may substitute milk for the cream. Make sure to use very fine breadcrumbs. The mix shouldn’t have any lumps.

Chopped savoy: The amount of chopped savoy seems overwhelming at 1st sight - be sure it’ll collapse in the pan.

You may store the savoy dish in your fridge & reheat in the microwave. (All cabbage dishes seem to be better after reheating!) Be aware that the cream will soak into the mess.

You may also freeze the savoy mess.


(information on equipment)



You may indulge in the savoy mess as it is.

You may also care for some fresh crispy baguette to accompany the savoy mess. Or you may even cook some plain potatoes for the savoy mess. In any case: it’ll be fine!



Isn’t it delicious?

The garam masala gives a fine sweet Oriental note perfect for cabbage.

Best is: you can indulge at once when ready or leave it for dinner or next day. Just reheat it in the microwave. Each „Durcheinander“ gets even better when reheated – everybody knows about this truth.



The businesswoman w/ too many office hours thinks 

It isn’t so fast, however, it’s easy. I can imagine preparing the savoy mess when I’ve got some time ahead & then freeze it for dinners when I’m late.



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