Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cabbage and potatoes with bacon

Debbie and I returned home after four months away. This included a quick trip to Oregon, where I located a rare Lodge 20-inch skillet. After visiting Debbie's sister and husband on the Oregon coast, we made our way to Quincy, California, where I was the chef for Oakland Feather River Camp for the next three and one-half months.

I hauled two 12-inch Dutch ovens to the camp, along with three large skillets. Twice during the pre-camp session I showed the cooks how to cook in cast iron Dutch ovens. Once camp ramped up in early June, long days and large numbers of hungry campers eliminated the opportunity for any Dutch oven cooking.

Serving  from 100 to over 300 campers three times each day is rewarding in itself. But I missed the chance to cook in cast iron. While we occasionally used the skillets in the kitchen, the Dutch ovens lacked the capacity to feed the crowds. I knew I'd have to wait until we came home to get back to cast iron cooking.

Layered cabbage and potatoes with bacon made a great welcome home dish. As a one-pot meal, it was relatively easy to prepare. And it has a great flavor. The marriage of two of my favorite vegetables makes for a succulent meal.

Enjoy ...


Sufficient liquid should be released from the cabbage to keep the dish moist. If the cabbage and potatoes are dry during baking, add 2 to 4 tablespoons water or chicken stock to the dish. When served, you should see a light coating of delicious liquor on the bottom surface of the Dutch oven.

Feel free to substitute your favorite sausage (sliced) for the bacon. Or to add a second layer of bacon, boost it to 12 or 16 ounces and spread half over each layer of cabbage.

8 ounces bacon, diced
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1-1/2 pounds green cabbage, shredded
3 pounds red or gold potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a 12-inch Dutch oven over medium high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to plate. Pour off most of the rendered fat, leaving about 3 tablespoons.

Add onion and cabbage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, until it’s just beginning to brown and the volume of cabbage is reduced by one-third. If necessary, add an additional tablespoon or two bacon fat to keep cabbage moist. Remove to separate plate or bowl.

Layer potatoes, cabbage mixture and bacon, lightly seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Place 1/3 potatoes on bottom of Dutch oven. Spread 1/2 cabbage mixture over potatoes, then spread all of the bacon over the cabbage. Place another third of the potatoes over the cabbage and bacon layer. Layer of remaining cabbage over potatoes. Place remaining potatoes over the cabbage.

Place lid on Dutch oven. Add coals for 375 to 400 degrees, approximately 8 under the oven and 20 on the lid. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and they are beginning to brown.

As an entrée, cabbage and potatoes serves 6 hearty eaters. It serves up to 12 as a side dish.

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