Let’s get something straight about winter eating: I am not a fan of braising. Many people wax lyrical about how delicious braised food is and they can’t wait for winter so they can braise some more. I am not one of those people. So you may find yourself asking why I’m trying to sell you a dish that is clearly braised. It’s right there in the name: Braised Sausage and Cabbage. Trust me when I say this recipe is worth it.
Most braised food reminds me of a scene from “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” one of my favorite books growing up. In it the main character buys a pickle during the winter because she just can’t stand the plain-tasting food she’s been eating all winter. That pretty much sums up how I feel about braised dishes: they make me crave something sharp and acidic.
Look, the thing about braises is they’re generally full of savory elements. What tangy ingredients they contact have lost a lot of their punch by the time the dish is done. The end result is rich and it’s nice but to me it tastes kind of flat. You could remedy that by making a vinegary or mustardy side dish but I am just so lazy as a cook. I’m holding out for those one pot dishes.
Well this is certainly one of them. It solves so many problems. The what-do-we-do-with-all-this-winter-cabbage problem – braise it with beer and sausages. The braises-aren’t-exciting problem – add sauerkraut as well as cabbage. Because it’s so strong to begin with, even the long-cooked mellowed sauerkraut holds a small amount of it’s previous bite. Some mustard and Worcestershire sauce add a little extra flavor and the sausage flavors mingle with everything as it cooks. It could of course be chicken or a pork roast, or just braised cabbage. Now at least I’ve solved the what’s-for-dinner-tonight problem. For now, that is.
Braised Cabbage and Sausage
Serves about 4 – Don’t be deceived by the initial size of the cabbage. It cooks down quite a bit.
2 tbs oil
2 medium onions, peeled, halved, and cut into half moons
2 tbs Dijon mustard (I used stone ground but smooth would be just fine)
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 medium head cabbage
4-6 ounces of beer*
1 tsp kosher salt**
4 sausages (or one per person, there’s enough cabbage for four meals)
1 1/2 – 2 cups sauerkraut
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large oven-safe pot set over medium heat add the oil and onions. Cook the onions for 10-15 minutes until they’re very soft and brown along the edges. If the bottom of the pot starts to burn just pour in 1/4 cup water and scrape it to reincorporate those browned bit.
Once the onions are done to your liking (if they don’t get as browned it’s completely fine) add the mustard and Worcestershire and stir. Then mound the cabbage on top of the onions. Let it sit on the heat for two to three minutes, just to wilt slightly, then pour over the beer and sprinkle on the salt.
Top the pile with the sausages and top the sausages with the kraut. Then cover with a lid or with foil and put the whole pot in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes. When the sausages are cooked through (internal temp of 165F), remove the pot from the oven. Serve immediately, although the leftovers last for up to a week and make a delicious lunch the next day.
*This is equal to about half a beer depending on the size of your container. The rest of that beer? That’s for you. Because half this beer if yours I’d recommend you use a beer you like to drink but if asked for a recommendation I’d say use a lighter Belgian for a less beer-y braise and a dark and nutty Porter if you’re looking for it to be Beer, Sausage, and Cabbage Braise. Both are delicious.
**If you use sausages, go easy on the salt when you cook the cabbage and onions. The meat is already seasoned and the sauerkraut and Worcestershire are salty as well so it’s easy to go a little overboard.