Magazines and radio shows are already gushing about springy greens recipes, but if you’re eating seasonally in the Upper Valley, winter food is still on the table.
You can get the main ingredients for this one-pot locally grown dish at the winter farmers market as well as a local grocery. Get a bag of local spinach and make a salad to go alongside your braise if you’re feeling springy.
Your shopping list:
– Pack of four bone-in pork chops (bones make things tasty, keep us healthy, and you can save them for stock)
– A large yellow onion
– Bulb of garlic
– 4 carrots
– 1 small cabbage (any kind – green, red, Napa, Savoy)
– 4 medium-sized potatoes
– Cider vinegar
For the photos here (and supper with friends), I used loin chops from pigs raised by family friends who make cheese. (Cheese-making = leftover whey = pig food.)
This dish uses classic ingredients from northern and eastern Europe – pork, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and caraway seeds (these are the seeds in rye bread). My Danish great-grandmother’s version uses sauerkraut and prunes instead of cabbage, carrots, and caraway. Her recipe is tasty but a little intense and only makes sense if you have extra sauerkraut sitting around. The version I’m sharing here uses fresh cabbage instead. Play around with different root vegetables and spices, or try it with sauerkraut if you want.
Braised Pork & Cabbage
Adapted from Martha Stewart.com
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or chicken fat, lard, etc.)
- 4 bone-in rib pork chops, 8 ounces each
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- ½ medium cabbage or one small cabbage (4 cups total, cored and chopped)
- 4 medium carrots, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4-5 medium potatoes (about a 1 lb.), sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 3/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 T Dijon or whole-grain mustard
- 1 ¼ cup water, stock, or wine from an open bottle that needs to be used up
- Salt & pepper
- 1 t caraway seeds, optional
- 1 bay leaf, optional
- 1 t dried thyme, optional
- Chopped parsley, optional (Try to use at least ONE of these herbs – ideally all.)
Don’t panic about this long list of ingredients. You probably have almost all of them just gathering dust somewhere in the cupboard, right? No need to buy any of them if you don’t have them.
Prep the vegetables:
– Quarter the cabbage. Slice away the core/stem area. Slice thinly across the grain.
– I peeled the carrots because the skins looked a little weird – but I saved the skins for stock!
– Chop the onions and mince the garlic.
– Slice the potatoes.
- In a Dutch oven (5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Generously sprinkle pork with salt. Cook until well browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove pork.
- Add remaining tablespoon oil, onion, cabbage, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme; season with salt. Don’t worry about the brown pork bits stuck to the pot. They’ll release the moisture of the vegetables and add to the flavor. Cook, stirring frequently until vegetables have browned somewhat, about 8 minutes.
- Add vinegar, caraway seeds, mustard, and 1 1/4 cups water/stock/wine; bring to a boil. Add potatoes, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook until cabbage and potatoes are almost tender about 15-20 minutes.
- Return pork to pot; cover, and continue cooking until pork is just cooked through and potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Grind a generous amount of black pepper over braise, sprinkle with chopped parsley (if using) and serve.
This is tasty as leftovers.
If you’re inclined to be thrifty and nutritionally wise like a grandmother, save the gnawed-on bones for stock – simmer the bones (plus any others you may have in the freezer) in 2-3 quarts of water for a few hours, adding more water if needed. In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add carrot peelings (from above) and any onion and celery scraps you have. Or add a small chopped onion, chopped stalk of celery, and a chopped carrot. Strain, cool, skim the fat, and use the broth in split pea soup, ramen, etc. (This morning, I made my stock into a soup with local shiitake mushrooms, onion, ginger, spinach, and other veggies.)