Smothered Cabbage: A Rich and Flavorful Side Dish

Smothered cabbage is a comforting, down-home dish that’s perfect for holidays or any day of the week. With the addition of a ham hock and pork shank, this recipe delivers a depth of flavor that’s simply unbeatable. Plus, it freezes well, making it a convenient option for meal planning.


  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 medium ham hock
  • 1 large pork shank
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 large head cabbage – washed, cored, quartered, and cut into 2-inch slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth


  1. Cook the Meat In a large pot, combine the water, ham hock, and pork shank. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 2 hours. Drain the pot and set the meat aside to cool to room temperature, approximately 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare the Meat Once cooled, remove the meat from the pork shank and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl. Remove the skin and meat from the ham hock, chop into very small pieces, and add to the bowl. Discard the skin if preferred.
  3. Saute the Cabbage and Meat In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the bacon drippings over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add 1/4 of the cabbage to the skillet and sauté until slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Add 1/4 of the meat mixture. Continue this process, alternating layers of cabbage and meat, and cooking each layer until slightly wilted, about 3 minutes per layer. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as you go. If the mixture starts to stick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chicken broth.
  4. Simmer the Cabbage Slowly add the remaining chicken broth to the cabbage-meat mixture in the skillet. Stir well to combine, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the cabbage is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Serve and Enjoy Serve the smothered cabbage hot as a side dish. Enjoy the rich, savory flavors that develop from the slow cooking process.

Tips for Perfect Smothered Cabbage

  • Cooking the Meat: Ensure the ham hock and pork shank are simmered long enough to extract maximum flavor and tenderness.
  • Layering: Adding the cabbage and meat in layers ensures even cooking and flavor distribution.
  • Seasoning: Adjust the salt and pepper to taste as you go to ensure the dish is well-seasoned.


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