Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Crock Pot Stuffed Whole Cabbage

Richard harvested four cabbages. Not really enough for a crock of kraut yet, but I need to use them up. I remembered a Paula Deen recipe I was going to try last year for a whole cabbage, stuffed and barbecued.

After reviewing several recipes on the www, I decided to hollow out a cabbage, place it on a bed of the removed chopped cabbage in a crock pot. I made a meat stuffing reminiscent of our traditional family turkey stuffing and when almost done, I topped it with a tomato cheese sauce. It cooked for four hours on high.

It was absolutely, deliciously different! The main drawback was being afraid to remove the whole hot cabbage to a platter for a beautiful display! After it cooled down, I was able to remove the leftover half cabbage entirely to a casserole dish for storing.

Serves 6-8

1 good size cabbage (needs to fit in crock pot with maybe an inch to spare)
1 cup diced onion
1 celery stalk, diced
1 lb. lean ground pork
2 Tbsp. ground Poultry seasoning
Salt & pepper
2 cups diced bread
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups chicken broth
1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed tomato soup
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Set up crock pot and coat inside with canola oil spray.

Prepare cabbage: Trim cabbage of ragged outside leaves and remove core. Cut circles around core to within an inch of bottom of cabbage, remove pieces leaving a nice one inch shell all around.

Dice removed cabbage and place in bottom of crock pot. Sprinkle with half cup of diced onion and 1 cup of broth. Set cabbage on top of diced vegetables. Turn crock pot on high.

Prepare stuffing: Heat 10 inch heavy skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while gathering and preparing ingredients. Turn heat to medium and sauté onion and celery with pork and poultry seasoning until pork is no longer pink. Turn off heat. Toss with bread cubes. Stir in 1 cup broth and eggs.

Put stuffing in cabbage. Cover crock pot and cook on high for four hours. Every half hour or so baste cabbage with juices from bottom of crock pot. A turkey baster comes in handy here.

After 3 ½ hours, mix tomato soup with cheddar cheese. Heat in microwave to melt cheese, stirring frequently. Pour over top of cabbage and cook for another half hour or so.

Cabbage is done when ribs near top are tender when poked with a fork.

Slice wedges from outside into center and scoop onto plates for serving.

This was very delicious accompanied by Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Easy Creamy Savory Polenta

I have tried making polenta before, but it was nothing to write about. It was yucky. Not even as good as grits. Then I saw this recipe, Polenta and Egg Breakfast, and thought I would give it a try. I didn't know which cornmeal to use. I had regular yellow corn meal I use for corn bread and a fine white self-rising cornmeal.

After research on the www, I discovered some interesting facts:
From Cook’s Illustrated: Baking soda added to the cooking liquid softens the endosperm, reducing the time it takes for gelatinization to occur, which in turn, shortens the cooking time;  and use degerminated cornmeal.

From wikipedia: “Polenta has a creamy texture due to the gelatinization of starch in the grain, though it may not be completely homogeneous if a coarse grind or hard grain such as flint corn is used.

From Chowhound: For creamy polenta, the ratio of water to polenta is 5:1.

I decided to use the self-rising cornmeal. It already has baking soda in it, it is degerminated and the fine texture would probably give a creamier texture than coarse ground.

I brought the water to a boil and whisked in the cornmeal. Yuck, a bunch of lumps. I threw it out and started over. If I want a no lump gravy, I quickly stir small amounts of water into the flour. Then stir the loose paste into simmering broth. For the creamiest oatmeal, I stir the oats into cold water. So I put the cornmeal into the pan first, whisked in cold water gradually, then brought it to a boil.

Hooray! Success! This recipe is very smooth and creamy. I even snacked on the cold leftovers.

Serves 2-4

1/4 cup Self-rising Cornmeal
1 1/4 cups Water
1/2 tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Milk
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
Dash hot sauce
Dash ground black pepper

Put corn meal in 1 quart saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Slowly stir in cold water with a whisk, eliminating all lumps. Bring to a boil stirring frequently. Cover tightly and turn heat to very low, barely a simmer. Set timer for 20 minutes. Stir every five minutes. After 15 minutes, stir in milk and butter. After 20 minutes, stir in the cheese, hot sauce and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Cover and let set at least five minutes or until rest of meal is ready to serve.