More pork and cabbage

prok butt country ribs IMG_6075

country-style ribs

Yes, more pork and cabbage.

I think pork is a really versatile meat, and cabbage an under-utilized vegetable.  So, more!

My local Harris Teeter had a special on pork country-style ribs recently–about half the usual price. (Not the price in that picture–less.)  Needless to say,  a big package of country-style ribs came home with me.  The weather has still been cool enough to have braises and stews–cool-weather dishes, so I though I would make braised pork and cabbage since that reheats well, and freezes well.

I was planning to do the Caribbean spiced one from Jacques Pepin’s book, but my plans were altered by the arrival of a manuscript for indexing. After looking at the manuscript, I decided that I needed to get started on that right away to be sure I could meet the deadlines–it’s very dense and intense, and brings out my OCD tendencies–so I opted for a braised pork that I could put together really quickly–in other words, improvisation.

one-pot meal in the making

potatoes and cabbage

I wanted to turn this into a one-pot, one-plate meal, so I put potatoes right in with the pork and cabbage.  I looked at the amount of pork and decided that it needed a whole large head of cabbage. I eye-balled what I thought would be a serving of potatoes with each serving of pork and cabbage, and popped those right in with the cabbage–scrubbed, unpeeled, and cut only if they were large. In this case I used “regular” green cabbage, instead of savoy. I sprinkled some salt over the layers of cabbage and potatoes.

I could have used a Dutch oven, but using a clay cooker let me take a few shortcuts to speed this up–including cooking a bit faster in the oven than had I used the Dutch oven and making it unnecessary to brown the ribs as a separate process before putting them into the pot. The meat will brown on the exposes surfaces while it cooks in the Römertopf since this is more roasting than braising, at least of the meat.

pork added to cabbage and potatoes

ready for seasoning

The Römertopf that I used (pre-soaked) for this was sized for 14 pounds (not that I had THAT much pork), but the quart sizing on these is misleading since it’s the capacity of the bottom (rather shallow).  I had a lot of pork, so I needed the head room here for all that meat. I put the pork over the cabbage and potatoes and seasoned it.

I used by “stand-by, go-to” when lazy seasoning–herbes de Provence because it’s such a great blend of flavors. (I really should have put some caraway seeds in with the Herbes De Provencecabbage, under the pork–that would have blended nicely with the herbes de Provence on the pork). I sprinkled the meat with kosher salt, herbes de Provence, and added some red pepper flakes (hot) for a little extra spice; my supper was now oven-ready.

So there’s not really a recipe here, but to summarize:

Ingredients

  • country-style pork ribs (each strip makes one very good serving)–this was about 6 servings based on the amount of meat
  • one large head of cabbage, depending on what you want the ratio of meat to vegetables (this was about 1:2 meat to cabbage since I wanted large serving of cabbage with the meat).

    IMG_7990

    oven ready Römertopf

  • Yukon Gold potatoes (4 small per serving) but adjust as desired
  • salt (about 1 tablespoon for the entire dish) \*
  • herbes de Provence  or other herbs, about 2 generous teaspoons
  • red pepper flakes, about 1 generous teaspoon, adjust as desired

Preparation

If you’re using a clay baker like the Römertopf or Schlemmertopf, you will need to soak in water for 15 to 30 before putting into the oven. DO NOT preheat oven–clay pots must go into a cold oven.

ready to eat!

ready to eat!

  • Chop cabbage into about 1/2 inch (3.5-4cm) pieces
  • Layer potatoes and cabbage into three layers; sprinkle salt over each layer)
  • Place country-style ribs on top of the cabbage and potatoes and sprinkle with salt and herbes de Provence
  • Cover with the pre-soaked top
  • Do not add liquid–there will be enough released during cooking
  • Place in cold oven, and set to 400°F (200°C)
  • Check after two hours–it’s likely ready to eat.

ÒνÓ

If you don’t have Römertopf or Schlemmertopf, you can do this in a Dutch oven. The recipe for braised pork and cabbage should give you the cooking times, liquid, and oven settings.  Just adjust the size of the pot to be appropriate for the amount of meat and cabbage. (It would have been just as tasty but more colorful had I used Red Bliss potatoes–but Yukon Golds where what was present in the kitchen!

IMG_8002

* A note on salting: I keep kosher salt in a salt pig by the stove so that I can just pinch-and-sprinkle. I estimate that I used about 1 tablespoon for this entire preparation. Just sprinkle salt evenly and lightly and you’ll be fine.

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.