*Or: “Proving cabbage would taste better if it was pork”
It’s been awhile since I posted. This is not to say I stopped cooking. There has in fact been a raging battle between myself and an army of cabbage that has stormed my kitchen over the last month or so. In my defense, they sent in the big guns first: a massive red cabbage with a small core and bad attitude.
I marshaled my resources (the internet) and came up with a recipe for braised red cabbage.
I needed some new condiments for it, but they were all things I could use again, so I was okay with it:
Other than that, we were just throwing it in with some bacon, onion, and an apple.
Okay, no problem. Cook the bacon in the pot, add the onion. Smelling pretty hammy right now, raising concerns that this may be a repeat of the collard greens incident (in which I believe I may have over-hammed the recipe). Soldier on. Brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, check. Cut the cabbage the throw it in, let it cook. But wait, what’s that smell?
“It smells like barbeque.” This from Trusty Roommate Chad as he walked into the kitchen.
“You’re making barbeque? Smells great!” Called Shae from the other room.
It did in fact smell like barbeque. I love barbecue. Can you do cabbage barbeque? Was I on the cusp of some kind of culinary breakthrough that would take the best of the plant and animal kingdoms? Well….
…Only if you add sausage on the side. Which I did. Didn’t help. It was…edible. But not desirable. The problem was that the cabbage brought nothing to the table, taste-wise. Because I was braising the crap out of it, it also contributed little in the way of texture. So I was left with the taste of the braising material, which wasn’t bad, it just needed something. Some pork for instance. Yes! A nice big hunk of pulled pork to mingle with the vinegar and mustard and sugar! Something to sink your teeth into! So yes. I would like red cabbage better if it was made of pork.
But when you’ve been knocked flat, you just gotta get up off the mat and try again. So, next up: a green cabbage that I had been pointedly ignoring in the fridge for the last three weeks. I’ll say this for cabbage: It keeps.
This baby has been sitting around on a random shelf with no effort made to keep it nice, and it was like the day it arrived. Another way of looking at it would be to say that the damned things just won’t die, but we’re trying to avoid negativity here. Anyway, I have a pretty good track record with CSA-soups, so for my second try I went with a spicy sausage and cabbage soup.
This was a little more off-the-cuff than the first recipe, and that is apparently a good thing. I have seen a few recipes for this kind of thing and put a few together for something that used mostly things I had sitting around:
Onion! Garlic! Spicy Italian sausage I got on sale last week! Russet potatoes from the Strategic Potato Reserve (SPR) in the pantry! Lets throw in some rutabaga! Beans! And the cabbage. Dear Lord, let’s not forget the cabbage. I was only able to dispatch half of it though, the other half retreated to fight yet another skirmish two days later.
Bottom line, this turned out great. Big win just when things were looking pretty hopeless. Huge morale boost!
Also, it was seriously hearty, which was important during the never-ending winter of 2014.
So both sides went to their respective strongholds to regroup. The cabbage retreated, I prefer to think I advanced to the rear. I had no idea what to do with the remaining half of the green cabbage. Happily, some good came of the red cabbage defeat: It got us all thinking about barbeque. Shay, while cleaning up the remains of her own dubious result of a slow cooker experiment, looked at the crock pot, looked at me, and said, “Pulled pork.” To which I replied, “Cole Slaw!” And we were off and running on another of our Sunday evening culinary extravaganzas.
There was a massive piece of meat:
That was pre-cooking. Here is mid/post slow-cooking. Or “crocking” as I’ve decided we should all refer to cooking things in crockpots from now on.
There was also what felt like a massive cabbage half, which upon shredding made enough for a bowl of traditional slaw, and one of a vinaigrette slaw. Both called for a quarter of a red cabbage, but that would have left me with ¾ of a red cabbage, and I’m not stupid. I’m not just going to wantonly invite any portion of a red cabbage into my home, just because it is in a coleslaw-shaped Trojan horse.
Chad was in charge of buns. Well done, Chad!
Now, what would complete these sandwiches? Bacon, obviously, but also onion rings! The perfect crunch to compliment the soft textures of the other components (and an excellent side dish)! (Mom, Dad, you may notice a distinct resemblance to the erstwhile cherished and much-mourned Hogstack sandwich. That is no coincidence.)
So continuing our enthusiastic exploration of all things-fried, we whipped up some onion rings. Using, I might add, spicy chipotle panko crumbs.
They are easy. Slice ’em and dredge ’em in flour…
Dip ’em in batter and le them drip a bit…
Now fry ’em!
Now THIS, people, is how you use a cabbage! If you can’t actually have cabbage that’s made of pork, it might as well be pork-adjacent.
This is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever made at home. Pulled pork for the win.
By the way, I actually found yet another use for cabbage the next week: Borscht! But that’s for another post.
Anyway, the only recipe I would pass on here (the pulled pork was done by Shae, I have no idea what went into it, but it was delicious) is the cabbage soup, so here’s approximately what I did if you’d like to try something along those lines:
1 onion, diced
½ pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 russet potatoes (or three red ones, whatever you have works)
Half a green cabbage chopped into strips
6-8 cups chicken broth
A can of whatever beans you’re into
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Dice up and onion and add the spicy Italian sausage. You don’t really need any oil here, since the sausage will produce plenty. Let the sausage cook through, then add a few cloves-worth of minced garlic (it’s tough to overdo the garlic) and cook until it smells good. Cube the potatoes (and rutabaga if you are so-inclined) and throw those in with a can of white beans, and 6-8 cups of chicken broth. Add S&P, and if you like you soups spicy, ¼-½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Let it cook for 5 minutes, while you cut the cabbage into ½ inch-wide strips. Add the cabbage, give it all a good stir, and cook for 10 more minutes or until the potatoes are done. I’m finding that most soup recipes overestimate the amount of time it takes to cook a potato, so you end up with a thicker soup and less chunks as the potatoes disintegrate. If this is your preference, cook it longer!