Fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben...

5:20 PM

I thought I'd stick with the "comfort food" theme this week. Tonight I decided to make one of my all-time favorite meals: Kielbasa with Red Cabbage. My mother would make this in the winter when I was growing up, and though it is officially spring (including spring-like weather today), we had kielbasa in the freezer.

Here's what you need:

1/4 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 lb. head cabbage, shredded (about 12 c.)
3 medium onions, sliced (I used sweet onion)
3 medium cooking apples, pared, cored and sliced (I used granny smith)
1 lg. red pepper, cut in thin strips
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1 (2 lb.) ring kielbasa (It's better if you can find a fresh sausage--trust me. But if you can't find one, a Hillshire Farms or other pre-packaged, pre-cooked kielbasa will work just fine.)

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, orange peel, garlic, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves.

An aside: Grating orange peel is not fun. It always takes me forever and the peel always ends up stuck in the grater. If any of you have come up with a great way of completing this task, please let me know. Overall, prep took me much longer than usual because I can't find the magic piece of my Cuisinart that allows for the slicing of things. So, I did it all by hand. All of it. Note to self: Ask The Beloved where that piece is and make him swear never to hide it again under penalty of death. I've proved today I can handle a kitchen knife, thank you.

In a Dutch oven, arrange in layers: half of cabbage, half of onions and half of apples. Sprinkle with half of brown sugar mixture. Top with half of pepper strips. Repeat. Pour orange juice and vinegar over top. Bake covered for one hour.
An aside: I can't find my Dutch oven so I used my little roaster. What you want, basically is something large enough to hold all the ingredients, has a cover, and can safely sit in the oven. This doesn't mean I'm not begging The Beloved for Le Creuset's French Oven.

Make 1/4 inch deep slashes at 2 inch intervals in kielbasa. Place in Dutch oven, pressing down to partially cover kielbasa with pan juices. Bake covered for 30 minutes longer.

I love the different colors present in this dish before it goes in the oven--the purple of the cabbage, the white onions, the creamy color of the apples, the red peppers. It's aesthetically pleasing. And it smells great while it's cooking. After it's cooked, everything takes on the purple hue of the cabbage, but it's still pretty. And a confession: I love dishes like this because they are very self-contained. I don't need to think up anything to "go with" my main course. It's all there! The Beloved and I will enjoy this:

and this:

I know--it's hard to see. This is a Columbia Crest Gewurztraminer. It's a nice, light, sweet wine with apple notes. We're drinking wine because The Beloved prefers wine to beer. His reaction to beer is similar to his reaction to my wearing perfume. One could easily serve this with a nice ale or bitter--which is what I generally do.

One final note on this dinner: The longer you're able to let this cook and sit and stew, the better. The Beloved got home from work at about 6:20, and I had a rehearsal at 7:00. This meant I ate enough to keep my stomach from growling along as we sang and planned to eat a little bit more when I got home. What I ate at 6:30 was good. What I ate at 8:30 was divine. I left the covered pan in the oven at 170-ish degrees (the WARM setting) for the duration of my rehearsal. When I got home, the kielbasa was absolutely perfect--it melted in my mouth--and the other flavors had a little more time to meld adding to the delightfulness of this dish. Like many a stew, this only gets better on Day 2, so I'm hoping I can hide enough from Resident Sibling to have for lunch at work tomorrow.

Good night and Bon Appetit!

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