Drizzle some vinaigrette on a pile of shredded cabbage sauteed with bacon fat and onions, and it will taste a little like a hot winter coleslaw. It turns into a deeply flavorful bed for some fried sausage, perfect for supper on cold nights or refueling after shoveling snow.
Cabbage was a great standard vegetable in our past. Tons of it grow in Maine and it keeps great in the cellar, though old timers stored it away from other vegetables because of its fragrance as storage time wore on. I keep mine wrapped in newspaper and put on a hanging shelf that mice cannot reach, but as winter goes by, I have to use it up before the exterior turns to mush. Even in January, it easily passes the fresh vegetable test, and, of course, can be found in nearly every grocery store or farmers market in our state. It’s cheap, too.
I used a plain old sweet sausage, but you could turn to a zippier one like hot Italian, chorizo or andouille. Kielbasa would be perfect for this dish.
I like using a larger onion, as big as my fist at least, cut into slivers lengthwise. Carraway is a terrific addition, but with hotter sausage, maybe fennel or cumin seeds would be a better bet.
Bacon fat. I bet a lot of people toss their bacon fat. Depending on how you live, you may or may not. I enjoy a very smokey, thick cut bacon, seldom for breakfast, but required for the August and September sandwiches made with bacon, lettuce and fresh tomatoes straight out of the garden. The bacon is so good, and the reserved fat from those summertime sandwiches lasts a long time, which I occasionally replenish throughout winter. It is perfect for a dish like this that benefits from a smokey element, or chowder or potato salad, where the fat is cut with a jolt of vinegar.
If you don’t have bacon fat, use a good quality olive oil, and be generous with your seasonings.
Adjust this recipe to taste and to the number of people you are feeding. The directions below are for cabbage and sausage as a main dish for two people, but you can make it meatier for hungrier people. If you plan it as a side dish, add just enough sausage to season it. Figure on two cups of shredded cabbage per person and one large onion for four cups.
When I ate my serving, I decided it needed some dressing, so I drizzled some mustard vinaigrette over it. Just the ticket. You can offer dressing on the side or add some at the stove.
Winter Coleslaw with Sausage
1 generous tablespoon of bacon fat
1 large onion, slivered lengthwise
4 cups shredded cabbage
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons of caraway seed, or more to taste
2 sausages of your choice, fried or grilled
1. Melt the bacon fat in a heavy skillet, and cook the onion until it softens, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the shredded cabbage into the pan and cook until it is softened and even a little browned, turning it often enough to make sure it cooks evenly.
3. Fry or grill the sausages, and keep them hot while the cabbage is cooking.
4. Salt and pepper the cabbage and add the caraway seeds, mixing the cabbage to distribute the seeds.
5. Add vinaigrette to taste or serve on the side.
6. Serve the cabbage with the sausage nestled into it.