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While many of us will be having corned beef and cabbage this week in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, myself included, I was thinking about the first time I can remember the aroma of cabbage cooking in the kitchen.
I must have been about 6 or 7 years old when my grandmother was cooking a pot of cabbage along with some carrots and ham bones. I admit I was not enthused when we sat down to dinner that evening. How could anything that smelled so “bad” while cooking taste any good? To my amazement, I really liked it. I’m sure not many 7-year-olds really like eating cooked cabbage, but I became hooked and have enjoyed it ever since.
Last week, I bought a large head of cabbage to make some cabbage soup to have for lunch for a couple days. My wife offered to make her fabulous stuffed cabbage rolls using the large outside leaves and we even had enough cabbage left to cook a couple wedges with a ham bone we found in the freezer. All this from one head of cabbage.
Make cabbage part of your diet
Cabbage can be steamed, boiled, braised, microwaved, stuffed or stir-fried. Cut up fresh cabbage, sprinkle it with lemon and enjoy it as a midday snack; cabbage is delicious with your favorite tossed salad or pasta dish. I love making cabbage soup and adding either ground beef, meatballs or ham.
Corned beef and cabbage is a great dish for a busy cook; it can be easily prepared in the slow cooker with minimal hands-on time. This one-pot dinner needs only bread to complete the meal; Irish soda bread or Irish potato rolls are delicious alongside this dish.
Corned Beef and Cabbage with Beer
6 carrots, cut into chunks
2 onions, chopped
2-3 lb. corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
12 oz. can beer
2 Tbsps. yellow mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 head cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
In 4-6 quart crockpot, combine carrots and onions. Rinse corned beef under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in crockpot and sprinkle with contents of seasoning mix. Pour beer over brisket and spread mustard on brisket. In small bowl, mix brown sugar with water and pour over brisket. Cover crockpot and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours. Add the cabbage to the slow cooker about 2 hours before serving.
Serve with boiled potatoes.
Cut beef across grain into thin slices; remove vegetables from slow cooker with slotted spoon and serve with beef. Pour cooking juices into serving bowl with spoon. Offer additional mustard on the side. Makes 8 servings
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked Minute Rice
12 cabbage leaves (med. to large)
1-1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 Tbsps. Hungarian paprika
3 Tbsps. caraway seeds
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Blanch cabbage leaves in lightly salted water until softened; drain. In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, uncooked rice, onion, 1 Tbsp. paprika, one-half can each of tomato soup and crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.
Divide the beef mixture evenly among the cabbage leaves. Fold sides and bottom of each leaf around meat and roll into secure bundles. Place bundles (open side down) in Dutch oven or other large pan with lid. You may have more than one layer of cabbage bundles. Add remaining soup, crushed tomatoes, paprika and caraway seeds over each layer; add water.
Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1-1/2 hours. Add liquid if needed. Makes 6 servings.
Red Cabbage, Apples and Sausage
4 Tbsp. rendered bacon fat
2 Tbsps. sugar
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cups shredded red cabbage
2 tart red apples, such as Jonathan, cored and sliced thin but not peeled
2 Tbsps. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 to 1-1/2 lbs. German or Polish-style smoked sausage links, or bratwursts
1 lb. new, red potatoes
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Melt the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring often, until the sugar browns, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion, and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, apples, vinegar and caraway seeds; stir to blend. Place the sausage links and the potatoes on top of the cabbage mixture. Season with salt and pepper and pour the beer over all. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasonings and serve hot. Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 small head of cabbage, cut up in small pieces
3 Tbsps. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, diced
3 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. smoked paprika
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups V-8 juice
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, add cut-up cabbage and raw ground beef, diced onion, sugar, allspice, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, chicken stock and V-8 juice. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until the meat and cabbage are done. (Note: You do not have to drain the fat from the ground beef.)
The cabbage and beef usually get done at about the same time. If not, just cook a little longer until the cabbage is done. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 8 servings.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.