July 26, 2011

Southwestern Cabbage Jambalaya

We've been getting cabbage lately from our CSA.  Truth be told, neither of us are huge cabbage fans.  In fact, the only thing I can recall ever cooking with cabbage is egg rolls.   But since we have the cabbage, we've been looking for things to do with it.  And since our garden is giving us lots of hot peppers right now, something that would combine hot peppers and cabbage would be a real plus.

Looking online, I found an intriguing recipe on allrecipes.com for Cabbage Jambalaya.  That recipe got pretty good reviews, and several of the comments offered helpful ideas, so I decided I'd use that as the basis of my recipe.  That recipe didn't call for hot peppers, but since cayenne pepper and paprika are key elements of Cajun spice blends, I figured the hot peppers would work.    At the same time, I got another idea.  Bell peppers are pretty much ubiquitous in Cajun cooking, but there's something in bell peppers that makes them intolerable to me.   I like lots of other sorts of peppers, though, and the supermarkets have been getting in fresh poblanos, so I figured I'd toss those in to make something of a Cajun-Southwestern fusion recipe.

The result was a thick, hearty, spicy stew, and it was delicious.  The cabbage cooked down, became tender and absorbed a lot of the seasonings.  The flavors and textures of the spicy sausage, beef, and vegetables blended together well, and the seasoning and the mix of peppers provided a pleasant degree of heat.  The Jambalaya was also filling without being heavy.  This recipe is definitely a winner, and we're looking forward to enjoying the leftovers as workday lunches.

So, our first cabbage recipe turned out great, which makes us more enthusiastic about trying out some other ways of using cabbage.  Hopefully they will turn out as good as this, but even if they don't, we'll still have a good use for cabbage, because this recipe is good enough to earn a spot among our go-to recipes.

Southwestern Cabbage Jambalaya

yield = 9-10 servings

1 1/2             pounds andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1                   pound lean ground beef
1                   large yellow onion, chopped
4                   fresh chili peppers, minced
3                   stalks celery, minced
2                   poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
4                   teaspoons minced garlic
1                   teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend
1                   medium head cabbage, chopped
4-5               medium tomatoes, chopped
4                  cups beef broth
1 1/2            cup long-grain white rice

Brown the sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.   Transfer the browned sausage to a bowl and set aside.

Add the ground beef, onions and chili peppers to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, then stir in the celery and poblano peppers and cook until the beef is evenly browned and the vegetables are starting to get tender (about 5 minutes).

Clear a space in the center of the Dutch oven and add the garlic and Cajun seasoning.  Cook for about 45 seconds, then return the sausage to the Dutch oven.  

Add the cabbage, tomatoes and beef broth.  Stir to mix the ingredients together, and scrape the bottom of the Dutch oven with the edge of a spoon to loosen the fond from the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the rice, bring to a boil, then cover the Dutch oven, turn heat to low and let simmer until the rice is cooked (about 30 minutes).   Serve with garlic bread or other crusty bread.

If you'd like a dish with more or less heat, increase or decrease the amounts of chili peppers and Cajun seasoning to taste.  If you'd like something more authentically Cajun, use green bell peppers in place of the poblanos.

We used Penzey's Cajun Seasoning and Rachel Ray Beef Flavored Stock-in-a-Box, which is Cook's Illustrated's pick for best commercial beef broth. 

Juli here.  When Jeffrey said we weren't cabbage fans, in my case that actually translates to I will not eat cabbage, I hate it so much.  So this recipe is ground-breaking for me!  It's very, VERY good, and if I was naming the recipe I'd call it "Cabbage Jambalaya for People Who Hate Cabbage."  Or maybe not.  Heh.  Anyway, don't be afraid to cook this, even if you really don't like cabbage. 

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