For the stock:
1 whole stewing hen, (preferably including head, neck, feet, and gizzard and heart, properly cleaned and rinsed)
1 onion, coarsely chopped (optional)
1-2 tablespoons of vinegar (optional)
For the Stew:
2 medium heads of cabbage, outer leaves pealed, and quartered (not chopped)
1-2 potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
generous sprinkling of paprika
a splash of vinegar, to taste
sour cream, for garnish
This delightfully simple and easy stew is always a hit at our house, and one of our favorite ways of featuring our home-grown heritage stewing hens and our red cabbages. It has that soul-food yumminess that just makes you want to keep going back for a little bit more, even though you're completely stuffed. You can make this with any cabbage, of course, but using red cabbage gives the dish an interesting rosy-lavender color, which in our kitchen is often further enhanced by the inclusion of our own purple Moloka'i sweetpotatoes (a richly colored, dense and starchy Hawaiian variety that we often use in place of "Irish" potatoes, which are difficult to grow here).
To make the stock:
Put the chicken (and the onion, if using) into a large stainless steel pot and add water to cover. If you are able to, I encourage you, by all means, to include the feet and head and other parts in your stock--you will have a richer and more nutritious broth, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that you have made full use of the bird's gifts. (You can also add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to the water at this point and allow the ingredients to marinate for half an hour at room temperature). Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the top and discard. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 4 hours (or longer). Strain and pick the meat from the bones. Reserve about half the meat and half the stock for the stew and save the rest for later uses. Also, refridgerate or freeze all the bones and other leftover bits, which can be used to make a second stock at a later date. Stock and meat can be refridgerated and saved, or used immediately for...
Making the Stew:
Put the stock in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare and add quartered cabbage, potato, onion, and garlic. Reduce heat and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, or until cabbage can be easily cut with a butter knife or a spoon and potatoes are tender. Add the cooked chicken meat. Add salt and pepper to taste, and season generously with paprika and, if necessary, a tiny bit of vinegar to adjust the acidity. Garnish each bowl with a generous scoop of sour cream and a sprinkling of paprika, and serve with fresh-baked whole-wheat bread. Enjoy!