Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beer-Braised Cabbage

Despite a decidedly English last name, I have a lot of German heritage. That, combined spending my formative years in Wisconsin, has left me with a deep love for the perfect pair of sausage and cabbage. Although sometimes my cabbage cookery can get a bit more exotic, there's still nothing better bratwurst and sauerkraut or slow-cooked cabbage and kielbasa. Unfortunately, there's not always time for fermentation or hours of braising when you've got a hankering for some cabbage (or one from your CSA box that needs to be used), but this recipe is the perfect solution to that problem. Adapted from a recipe from the paragon of precision cooking, America's Test Kitchen, this uses just a few common ingredients to turn cabbage into a flavorful side in just a few minutes. With so few ingredients, even the choice of beer is important here; more intensely flavored beers could become bitter in this recipe, so a mild beer is the best choice. Being the beer snob that I am, I still couldn't use a mass-produced American adjunct lager, opting instead for a mild craft beer (Three Floyds Pride and Joy Mild Ale). The butter and reduced beer make this silky and just a bit rich, but the mustard and vinegar accents maintain a sharpness that cuts through the fattiness of the accompanying sausage. As frigid temperatures being to make their entrance, this soul-satisfying dish will be most welcome at your winter table, the perfect excuse to indulge in some rich sausage and a frosty mug of beer.

Beer-Braised Cabbage
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2010
serves 2

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup beer (mild American lager, etc.)
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 small head green or red cabbage (12 ounces), cored and sliced thin
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beer, mustard, and thyme, bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the cabbage and vinegar, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is wilted and tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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