Saturday, November 13, 2010

a ready pot

The full arrival of autumn, the layering, the twisting of a scarf, the gloves shoved in your pockets has had me planning a stew. I know it has been more than a half of a year since I took my large casserole pot from the shelf, and allowed it to sit defusing heat rather than collecting dust. So, right into the sink it went in anticipation of something slow, and warm.

I have many soups, stews and braises in my bag of tricks but what was I really in the mood for. I have been thinking of my Mom lately, and I kept thinking of the cabbage, potato and pork stew she would make. I always loved the combination of potato and cabbage after they sent some considerable time in the pot. The pork was always overcooked because she would use a boneless chop, which I would have advised should be replace with a shoulder or loin cut. But that was never a matter for me for thankfully copious moisture naturally contained within the bulging head help to offset any dissatisfaction with her meat choice.

Walking through my Saturday market answered my question as to what stew make, and simultaneously let me send time with my Mom. Cabbages abounded, as did potatoes, however, being her son I needed to twist it somewhat. My local game farmer produces the must addictive smoked pheasant sausage that I know was finding its way into the first simmering pot of the season.

Cabbage and Potato Stew – yields 6 to 8 servings
1-large head cabbage
3-tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 pounds smoked sausage – cut into 1-inch rounds
1-pound Cippolini onions – peeled and quartered
1/2-pound parsnip – peeled and julienne
8-garlic cloves – roughly chopped
1/2-teaspoon cumin seed
1-teaspoon caraway seed
1/8-teaspoon ground mace
1-1/2 pounds potato – cut into 1-inch chunks
1-tablespoon fresh thyme leaves – roughly chopped
1/2-cup red wine vinegar
2-teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the cabbage in quarters and remove the core. Then cut each quarter into thick slices, about 1 to 2 inches thick. Hold to the side.

Heat a 10-quart casserole pan over a high heat. Add one-tablespoon of the olive oil, and the sausage. Brown the sausage and then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining two-tablespoon of oil and the onions. Brown the onions and then mix in the parsnip and garlic as well the browned sausage. Cooking for a few minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin, caraway and mace. Stir in the spices. Then mix the potatoes, and pour over the vinegar. Put the cut cabbage over the vegetables, and distribute the salt over the cabbage.

Cover the pot, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for an hour. Season with black pepper and salt if needed.

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