Bacon lovers rejoice! Your favorite food is now on the dinner menu. I was skeptical when I first heard of this dish, but it actually is quite tasty. It's also quick and easy to prepare. Once you've made it the first time you won't even need the recipe going forward. So if you have a bacon lover in your house (and who doesn't) make his dream come true. Fill the house with smells of bacon at dinner time and give him this special treat.
I label it as a casserole, but it really is prepared entirely on the stove top not in the oven. But if 'feels' like casserole when you are eating it. Friends told me about it originally and said it was eastern European. Another friend insisted it was Irish. When I researched it I did find individuals that said their grandmothers from that region did make similar dishes, but that it has changed over time. I tested with and without the optional Asian ingredients below, and found it much more flavorful with them. I recommend you use them. The dish won't taste particularly Asian, but they will add enough flavor and color to make the dish more appealing to your eyes and palate.
If you have the 'cabbage hater' in your family (and again who doesn't) you need not fear. In fact if you don't mention it they won't realize it's a key ingredient. It doesn't add a strong cabbage flavor or smell and goes wonderfully well in the dish. Do include it because without it I fear the dish would be too rich to consume.
1 head of cabbage
1 pound of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
12 ounces wide, curly egg noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons soy sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Cut the cabbage in half and remove the core. Cut each half in half again. You now gave four quarters. Cut each piece into strips about one inch wide, or about the size of your cooked egg noodles.
In a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Pour the bacon dripping into a Pyrex (heat proof) measuring cup. Using a slotted spoon remove any large burned pieces. Rinse or wipe the skillet to remove any burned surfaces. Return about four tablespoons of the bacon grease to the skillet and heat for 2-3 minutes. Roughly chop the onion and add to the skillet and cook while stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes until the onions are tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water with one tablespoon of olive oil to boil for the egg noodles. Add the noodles and cook until done. Drain the noodles reserving one cup of the starch water and set aside. Stir periodically to prevent sticking.
Add the cut cabbage to the skillet and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Stir in the optional soy, Hoisin and red pepper. Add the egg noodles and bacon, and combine. Stir in the starch water, more or less as needed for a moist but not soupy finished dish. Season with ground black pepper and serve.