Braise-roasted sausages, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts

Another dreary, rainy, winter day…not particularly cold, but as usual on a day like this I’m in need of comfort food.  In trying to keep one of my New Year’s resolutions to be sure and use what’s in my freezer, I was rummaging through the freezer to see what was there.  Interesting package of four plump sausages.  Only problem, I don’t know what they are–except that they are labeled “hot”.   But I’m sure they are due to be used–probably a sample that I got at one of the farmers’ markets this summer.  So we’re going to cook those this evening.  (I usually try to be careful to label things that get put into the freezer–I suspect that these were frozen when I brought them home, so I just tossed them into the freezer and…now I don’t know for sure what I’ve got.  But–they look like the should turn into a luscious meal once cooked.

Looking through the vegetable drawer in the fridge I found Brussels sprouts, potatoes (yes, I do keep my potatoes in the fridge because they aren’t in there long enough to change taste or texture.)

Onions, garlic, chili peppers, potatoes, sausages…and sprouts.  I’m being lazy today so I want easy food, but flavorful and satisfying.  Since there are four sausages I think that I should just do about 4 serving of this dish: one for another day this week, and maybe one for the “ready-to-eat” part of the freezer, along with the soup and the chilli.

I took four medium size Yukon Gold potatoes scrubbed but not peeled, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks, mixed with about 6 or 8 garlic cloves, one medium onion chopped into 1-inch chunks, about 15 trimmed Brussels sprouts, all sprinkled with a three-finger pinch of salt.  On top of that go the four sausages, skins pierced so that they won’t explode, and some herbs. (Being in truly lazy mode, I used herbs de Provence since that’s got a variety of herbs so likely something will connect with the sausage seasoning.

I added about 1/4 cup of water, covered the baking dish tightly, and popped it into a 350 ° F oven.  I’ll check it in about 45 minutes.  When the potatoes are close to being done,  the cover comes off and  it finish cooking uncovered.  Add one green salad, or maybe just the sprouts, and there’s comfort food, and lazy comfort food at that!

Braised pork and cabbage (Caribbean seasoning)

I’m of the opinion that cabbage is a much under-appreciated vegetable!  It’s good for so many things besides the traditional “coleslaw”.  One of my favorite things is to use it in braises.  Here is one of my favorites:  Braised pork and cabbage.  Again, it’s versatile, freezer-friendly, and the quantities are flexible.

Heads of savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage

A particular favorite is from Jacques Pepin’s Cuisine Economique.  I’ll give you the basic recipe here ingredients as given in that recipe and summary of the preparation.  If you’re interested in ways to take economical cuts of meat and make them into something really good, this is a book worth looking at (See Bibliography).  The recipe is here not to give you quantities, but to suggest seasoning.  While this recipe suggests a larger cut of pork, I usually get the boneless country ribs to use for this–they are really more like pork butt than are loin chops.

Braised Pork and Cabbage (p. 247)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • a 4-pound pork roast (loin tip, shoulder, or pork butt)
  • 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium-size heads Savoy cabbage (about 2-1/2 pounds), leaves cut into 2-inch pieces and core cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large onions (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
packaged pork boston butt

boston butt shoulder roast

Preparation

  • Mix the salt, oregano, cumin, allspice, cayenne, and rub the mixture all over the meat.  (See Notes.)
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot.  When hot, brown the meat over medium-to-high heat for about 30 minutes (See Notes) until well browned on all sides.
  • Cover tightly and place in a preheated 325 ° F oven and cook for 45 minutes to a hour.
  • Remove the meat and transfer to a platter.
  • Combine the cabbage, onions, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in the pot.
  • Put the meat on top of the cabbage, cover, and return to the oven for about 2 hours until the roast has released juice and is fork tender.
  • Slice the meat and serve with the cabbage and juices from the pot.

Notes:

  • The cooking times will vary to some degree with the type of meat you use–shoulder, butt and ribs have enough fat and connective tissues to need long slow cooking. A supermarket loin roast, which I would not use, can easily become dry with long cooking unless brined.   I do not usually make this with a roast, but with big, meaty,  country-style spare-ribs, with about  1 to 1-1/2 pounds.  Even using about a quarter of the meat, your cooking time will still be longer than a quarter of these times–you just need to check the doneness)

    country ribs

    butt country ribs

  • You’ll probably want to use the quantities given for the rub ingredients–and I like to put these on the meat for at least several hours (if not a day before) browning it.  There is a lot of surface area to cover with the ribs.
  • This is also a freezer-friendly dish–I love to have a single-serving sized portion to pull out when I need comfort food on a cold day or I’m just in a hurry for food.
  • I like to serve steamed potatoes with it–or add one of those single servings to a  single-serving amount of rice as it cooks (in the rice cooker) for a complete meal.
  • A Riesling or Gewürztraminer wine is excellent with this dish.