Christmas is six days away and it’s hot in South Texas. T-shirt and shorts weather hot. And I’m not liking that. But, according to our weathermen, a cold front is arriving tonight which means I need to prepare a meal that will accommodate this new found chill in the air.
Something warm, comforting, enough for several servings and a recipe that requires cabbage since a gorgeous and massive head of cabbage has been stuffed in my fridge since last week (one of the many leftovers I had from the gorgeous display table we put together for the morning show I recently was on to talk about the excessive choices of holiday gift ideas that can be found at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market–the cabbage is in the middle back of the table).
Since the holidays always spur a bit of nostalgia, I thought a sauerkraut-type dish would feed my German spirit (and make room in the fridge). We love the faux kraut recipe I make, but I came across another cabbage dish that really appealed to me.
Instead of the apple cider vinegar, this recipe called for two cups of apple cider and two apples, but David thought that might be too much sugar. So I combined the recipes, used mostly apple cider vinegar and some apple cider and we hit the sauerkraut jackpot. We amped up the pork affect and used healthy versions including no nitrate and uncured bacon, uncured and smoked kielbasa and natural baby back ribs for an incredible, one-pot wonder.
Not too tart and not too sweet, this faux kraut re-do is spectacular in every way. Even if you aren’t German or a sauerkraut junkie like me, I think you’ll appreciate the fact that a little bit (or a lot) of pork makes everything better.
Braised Cabbage with Bacon, Onions, Apples, Ribs and Sausage
- 1 medium head of green cabbage cored and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Drizzle olive oil
- 5-6 slices of thick uncured, no nitrates added, applewood smoked bacon, chopped
- 1 yellow onion halved and thinly sliced
- 1 apple halved, cored and sliced thinly
- 1/2 apple halved cored and cut into chunks
- 1 heaping tablespoon caraway seeds toasted (toss the seeds into a skillet over medium-high heat for just a minute or two until they start to smell fragrant)
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1 cup water
- 1 Pederson's uncured smoked kielbasa sausage ring cut into 6 pieces
- 4-6 baby back pork ribs individually cut and lightly salted and peppered
Halve the cabbage and remove the core. Then thinly slice the cabbage and place in a colander. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over the cabbage and toss to coat. Set the colander in a large bowl or place in the kitchen sink so it can drain.
In a big soup pot over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil. Once it's hot, add the bacon and cook the chopped bacon until it's fried to perfection. Add the sliced onions and one sliced apple and saute until softened, about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the cabbage and caraway seeds and stir well to combine.
Add 1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of apple cider and 1 cup of water stirring well to combine all of the ingredients.
Over medium heat, let cook for 10 minutes and stir well again. Place the seasoned ribs on top of the cabbage mixture and cover the pot for 10 minutes.
Remove the cover, stir and cook for another 35-40 minutes, allowing the liquid to evaporate a bit and thicken.
Place the sausage chunks in the pot and submerge them or partially submerge them in the juice. Then sprinkle the chunks of half an apple on top and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring often. Turn off the heat and cover for another 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the meat to continue cooking in the flavorful juice.
When ready to serve, remove the lid, stir well and cook over medium-high heat until it's hot and bubbly. Plate up generous servings so everyone has plenty of sauerkraut, one rib and one sausage chunk and serve with your favorite mustard or mustards.