German Brown Coal ::: Braunkohl (Slow Cooked Kale & Pork)

It is pretty amazing having access to truly authentic International recipes due to extended family. Peter’s Mom’s side of the family is 100% German and his Oma, who still lives with them, ran a German Restaurant in New Jersey when he was growing up.

This recipe is one they make often and the only one I have dared to replicate. This occurred when I had a mild obsession with kale in 2010! The pork and kale cook slow for a very long time, creating a flavorful and tender mix of greens and meat that works well with a side of roasted or boiled potatoes.

I did a bit of research and it seems we have really lightened up the dish (omitting bacon/salt pork, using EVOO instead of butter, and using pork chops or boneless pork ribs instead of sausage).  It’ s a dish that’s supposedly made different depending on the region in Germany and is typically a hearty winter dish. {Reminds me of this French Cassoulet}

OH! You mean I shouldn’t make it in May in Miami? Oops! Good thing we work out.

  • I use boneless pork chops if I can’t find good-looking boneless pork ribs
  • We never make potatoes on the side. It is already so filling!

German Brown Coal   {Braunkohl}     serves 4-6

  • 2 lbs boneless pork ribs or boneless pork chops
  • 2 large bunches of kale
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • water
Begin by preparing the kale. Cut or rip the stems out and cut into 2 inch wide strips. Place the kale in a bowl of cold water. 

In a large and tall pot with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Season the pork with salt pepper and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder. Sear the pork in the oil for 2-3 minutes on each side or until each side has a nice light brown color.

::: here I used pork chops, not boneless short ribs :::

Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the second tablespoon of garlic powder and stir. Drain the cold water from the kale. Add the kale on top of the onions and pork and cover.


Turn the heat to low and cook for 4+ hours.  Stir at least every 30 minutes and add 1/4 a cup of water at a time if it is drying out. You can also add more salt/pepper to taste. When pressed for time, we have eaten this dish as soon as 2 1/2 hours, but the longer it cooks the more interesting the flavors become.

For those looking for maximum nutrients from the kale, the longer it cooks the more the nutrients cook out. *I don’t think this is the important part for the traditional German recipe given it has lard, bacon, sugar, sausage, and is served with potatoes! 😉

Substitutions: I’ve been asked if you can substitute other meats, like chicken, if you don’t eat pork. If you do decide to use chicken, have some chicken broth on hand instead of water, as I believe it will dry out faster and you will need to add more liquid. Since chicken is not as fatty or flavorful as pork, chicken broth would work better here.

Leftovers: These Greens n Beans Burritos are a perfect recipe for your Brown Coal leftovers.

I’d love to hear from you if you try this recipe!

Follow me



::: keelymarie :::

14 Replies to “German Brown Coal ::: Braunkohl (Slow Cooked Kale & Pork)”

  1. Thanks for posting this Keely! I’m leaving tomorrow for a week of travel but I will make this when I return. It should be a real treat for my hubby…a lonely hubby 🙂

  2. Uh no offense but did you mean Gruenkohl? =Green because it is the Kale that gives the dish a colour. Sorry, being German I have never heard of Braunkohl. Hey, but if I am wrong, let me know. I can take it haha. It is a dish I love and always eat when we fly home in the fall.

    1. I was waiting for a German to correct me. 😉

      It is supposedly called both names, my boyfriend’s family is 100% german and they only call it Braunkohl. The reason is that the green kale turns a fairly brown color after cooking for a long time.

      Supposedly there are at least 2 versions of this dish: (1) Braunkohl which is the one using a deep red kale that turns very brown and (2) Gruenkohl made with green kale.

      If you notice I also abbreviated it, the real German name is Braunkohl und Pinkel, but his family just nicknames it Braunkohl.

      I’d love to see your versions of the dish if you ever blog it!

      1. lol you know us Germans…hehe. See, so I learnt something today. And now I want a portion of it lol. When we fly back home in July we will eat like crazy. Maybe I should blog about the food from the Northern Part of Germany 🙂

  3. From elsewhere on the web: “Braunkohl und Pinkel: Kohl und Pinkel (cabbage and sausage) is probably one of Bremen’s most well-known dishes, where its correct, full name is Braunkohl und Pinkel. In most of northern Germany, the dish is called Grünkohl und Pinkel (kale and sausage), however, the Bremer version of the dish uses a variety of Grünkohl whose leaves have a reddish pigment in them, which, when cooked, impart a brown color and more spicy taste, hence the Braun (brown) in Braunkohl.” As for the title of your post, “kohl” does NOT translate as “coal”!! It is, loosely, cabbage or kale. Sheesh!

Comments are closed.