Braising has become my new favorite food technique. As much as I swore I’d never use the Dutch ovens my P.S. (Purchaser of Stew ware/ hubby) brought home, I find I like to throw stuff in them and see what results. I still think Dutch ovens are super heavy to lift down from where they’re stored, and to wash them isn’t pleasant. But the food coming out of them has been fabulous.
I like one pot or skillet cooking anyway, so to transfer those ideas to an enameled cast iron Dutch oven wasn’t a stretch. There are actually times when I think “Darn, I should have made this in the Dutch oven”. Yeah, I didn’t ever see that coming. People, meet old dog who learned a new trick! It’s become the electric frying pan of the 2000’s in my castle.
This particular day I had heads of cabbage to use, courtesy of aforementioned P.S. who likes cabbage. They were on sale so he bought a lot. *wince* Way more than 2 people can eat up fast. I’d used it in several dishes, he’d used it in one and we still had 2 whole cabbages. One cabbage needed to lose its life this day in a savory way. Braised! Dutch oven!
We were out of cream and our last jug of milk ended up down the drain because it was way, way past its date. Stinky. So braised, creamed cabbage was out. Sigh. I do love that. But braising it with tomatoes and adding the ground beef I had in the fridge sounded like a good second best plan. It would be similar to hunter’s stew, a family favorite that I really need to post sometime soon. It’s a crockpot/slow cooker version of cabbage, beef and tomatoes.
I started by tackling the cabbage. I cut it in half and then fourths, slicing down the center to remove the core on each piece. I pulled off the damaged outer leaves then cut the cabbage into about 1″ chunks. I poured 2 tablespoons of canola oil into my Dutch oven then spread the cabbage out inside the pot.
Next I tore the 2# of ground beef into bits with my fingers, sprinkling it over the top of the cabbage. When I had half of it in the pot I decided I should have layered half the cabbage, half the meat, the remaining cabbage then the remaining meat. So I used my hands to mix it up before putting the remainder of the ground beef over the top. The recipe below is much clearer on what I meant here!
I sprinkled a good teaspoon of salt over the top, about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper, and a teaspoon of garlic powder. I could have used minced garlic but I think the powder distributes more evenly in a dish like this that isn’t stirred as it cooks. I also added a teaspoon of dried basil and one of oregano.
I poured a can of diced tomatoes over the top of the meat, making sure it was all evenly covered. I poured a can of tomato sauce over it all and decided I was pleased. This would be a great collection of flavors.
The Dutch oven went into a 400°F oven for 30 minutes to get it going. Then I reduced the heat to 300°F and let it braise for 90 minutes. Even after 30 minutes it was smelling like something we’d like to dive into face first. Mmmm!
I checked the pasta for doneness after 30 minutes and it was just right. The seasoning was also fine, no further salt or pepper was needed. Our dinner was ready!
The stew was super tasty! Braising vegetables and meats really does bring out the ultimate flavors. Nothing boiled or fried about this meal, it was simmered to perfection. Every mouthful was a melding of complete satisfaction. Dinner was delicious and the leftovers were great reheated for several lunches for my P.S. Quite a success with very little effort!
Braised Cabbage with Ground Beef and Tomato
An oven braised hunter's stew with cabbage, tomatoes and ground beef.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 medium green cabbage; cut into 1″ pieces (about 10 cups)
- 2# ground beef
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup orzo (small rice-shaped pasta)
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Drizzle oil into bottom of Dutch oven.
Place half of diced cabbage into pot and spread evenly. Layer half of ground beef, torn into bits, over cabbage. Layer with remaining cabbage and remaining ground beef.
Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano.
Pour tomatoes evenly over top followed by tomato sauce.
Cover with lid and cook in oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 300°F and braise another 90 minutes.
Remove from oven, stir in orzo, replace lid and cook another 30 minutes.
Test for orzo doneness. Cook 10 minutes longer if necessary.
Taste test for seasoning, garnish with parsley if desired and serve hot.