Ever since my 90-year old father came to live with us last spring, supper's been increasingly an adventure as his appetite becomes increasingly less adventurous. In recent weeks, he's asked for salads from an "American" garden (that means "familiar" vegetables versus a plea for locally grown garden vegetables) and "more meat and more potatoes". (And more cookies and more donuts and more ice cream and more pie, but then, that's a whole 'nother story.) Okay then, I'm on it!
This recipe from Lisa at the Homesick Texan is one of a handful of recipes that pleased all three of us at the table and went straight from cryptic notes to a 3x5 recipe card for easy access again and again. Lisa may consider this rustic, home-cooked skillet "Texan" but I swear, this one-skillet sausage supper has "Midwest" written all over it. The first time, any one of us, all products of the Midwest, might have downed an entire skillet on our own. It tasted that good.
RECIPE for SAUSAGE & CABBAGE SKILLET
Time to table: 40 minutes
Makes 7 cups
2 tablespoons bacon grease or another fat/oil
2 or 3 medium potatoes (about 8oz/225g), diced or sliced (see Variations)
SAUSAGE & CABBAGE
1 pound (454g) smoked sausage, preferably cooked, cut in 1/2-inch thick rings
1/2 a large onion, cut in large pieces
1 large poblano pepper or 1 small jalapeño, minced
1 red pepper, cut in large pieces, optional
Salt & pepper
Other veggies, optional
1/2 teaspoon caraway (or more to taste)
1 pound (454g) very thinly sliced fresh cabbage
POTATOES In a large, heavy non-stick skillet, heat oil on MEDIUM HIGH until shimmery. Stir in the potatoes, stirring well to coat with fat. Sprinkle with salt, cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are mostly cooked and beginning to crisp up.
SAUSAGE & CABBAGE Add sausage, onion, poblano or jalapeño and red pepper. Cook until the sausage is heated through and the peppers are beginning to soften; as they cook, season with salt & pepper, be generous! Add other vegetables, let them cook through. Stir in caraway and cayenne.
Stir in about half the cabbage, add a splash of water if the skillet is getting dry with all the added volume; as the cabbage cooks, season with salt and pepper. Once the first batch of cabbage is beginning to soften, add the remaining cabbage and season again.
Cover and let the cabbage cook down, you can cook it a "lot" or cook it just until the rawness is gone but it still is soft and fresh. Your call!
Taste and season again, adjusting the caraway, cayenne, salt and pepper.
MAKE-AHEAD Part of what's special about this dish is how the cabbage remains still crisp and fresh tasting. That would be lost if you were making this ahead of time. That said, I suppose you could cook ahead up to the point where the cabbage is added.
LEFTOVERS warm up beautifully!
CHOOSING POTATOES I chose smooth-skinned red potatoes and left the skins on. I liked the color addition and the potatoes are firm enough to hold up to cooking hard. The same is true for Yukon golds. New potatoes would work but I'd probably quarter them instead of dicing. Fingerlings would work but I'd probably cut in half length-wise to show off their shape. The inspiring recipe called for peeled baking potatoes (often called "Idaho potatoes"); I'm partial to potato skins (and probably just a little bit lazy) so I'd scrub them well and then dice small. Could you use sweet potatoes? I think so but do think they're less likely to hold their shape.
NOT INTO POTATOES? Dice up a turnip or two.
CLEANING OUT THE VEGETABLE DRAWER? This is a great dish to toss in a few okra, peppers, frozen corn, etc. I've done them all! I also keep meaning to throw in a little spinach or kale on the end, not enough to go all new-agey and California but just to add that touch of bitterness that adds so much to a skillet like this.
LIKE THINGS SPICY HOT? Use more jalapeño or sprinkle with hot sauce to serve.
ALANNA'S TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
CHOOSING A SKILLET I've made this in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet and a true non-stick skillet. Both work!
POTATO OIL I'm always cutting back on oil/fat for cooking but in this case, the full 2 tablespoons of oil helps the potatoes to cook evenly and crisp up.
COOKED SAUSAGE vs UNCOOKED SAUSAGE I do recommend cooked sausage here, it's just hard to tell, amid all those vegetables, whether the sausage is fully cooked. If you do use uncooked sausage, I'd recommend cooking it completely in a separate skillet, then stirring it into the main skillet. I think some crispy sausage edges would be a good addition to this already-great dish! St. Louisans, we've been loving the smoked sausage and smoked pork chops from Swiss Meat & Sausage Co about an hour west of here. Good stuff, just be sure to call ahead because they do run out!
FRESH CABBAGE vs a BAG of CABBAGE I think a bag of slaw cabbage would work beautifully. I do feel like bags of cabbage could use a little refreshing, just rinse it under cold running water. Don't worry about the water, it'll cook off in the skillet. These days, I think many bags of coleslaw have only 12 ounces (340g) of cabbage, there's no need to open/buy another bag.
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MORE FAVORITE CABBAGE RECIPES~ Swedish Red Cabbage & Apples ~
~ Cabbage & White Bean Stew ~
~ Peasant Cabbage Tomato Soup ~
~ more cabbage recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Caraway Cabbage ~
~ Baked Cabbage Wedges ~
~ Alice Waters Coleslaw ~
~ more cabbage recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
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