Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Culinary Smackdown: Cabbage with Sausages and Grapes

Herewith my usual last-minute entry for the Culinary Smackdown, hosted this month by Grumpy Granny. I'm delighted by what my long-time Smackdown peeps contributed this month for Battle Cabbage. And to welcome some fabulous newcomers to this friendly foodie fray! Click on over to GG's host post here to find links to everyone's entries in the comments. Stay tuned for her announcement of this month's winner, who will win bragging rights, the opportunity to post a Culinary Smackdown winner badge on their sidebar/wall, and in turn become next month's host, judge, and "theme-picker."

This month I borrowed from a Mario Batali recipe that had me at the thought of cooking grapes for the first time. I substituted ingredients all over the place, failed to measure anything, and still managed to whip up something I'm not disappointed to call supper.

I had a sweet white onion on hand, so didn't go out of my way to buy a red onion.

I found seedless red grapes, which I suspect are different than Batali's recommended "wine or purple grapes."

I went foraging in the freezer for sausages and came up with some Roasted Red Pepper Italian Sausages from Carfagna's – a wonderful market and butcher shop that is as much of a must whenever I visit Columbus as, apparently, are stops at Jungle Jim's and Ikea whenever KY food bloggers come to Cincinnati.

I had the last little bit left in a bottle of red wine vinegar, and didn't worry whether it measured 4 tablespoons or not.

And then there was the cabbage. Foolish me, I picked up bok choy, thinking the delicate little head sitting next to it was Savoy cabbage when (I learned after googling images after my shopping trip) it was the called-for Napa cabbage after all. Oh, well. My honkin' big bok choy would not go to waste.

Although the recommendation of grilling the sausages sounds like a fine one, I browned mine in a Dutch oven while I sliced my onion and cabbage and plucked the stems from my grapes.

After removing the sausages, I wilted the onion, then added the sliced bok choy gradually (thickest to thinnest) to compensate for what I guessed would be its cooking time variance from Napa cabbage. Impatient and on the clock, I put the lid on the Dutch oven to hurry the cabbage cooking time along. Then added the grapes, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and bok choy greens. Topped with the sausages, here's dinner tonight.

Warning: Cooked grapes are hot! But I really liked my quick taste of this combination. Now I'm off to taste it for reals, with a glass of red wine, and settle in for the finale of Top Chef. I would be a happier camper if I could be rooting for Chef Ed Lee tonight. But after eating at his restaurant, 610 Magnolia in Louisville a couple of weeks ago, I can't complain.

I'll be around to check out the rest of the Smackdown entries later. And you can betcha a big post about 610 Magnolia is in the works. Plus more from other great KY restaurants I've visited in the past 1+ month.

Happy Smackdown, happy Leap Day, and thanks to all my talented and marvelous bloggy friends!

xoxo, eggy


Anonymous said...

Whew, Eggy, you had me worried there for a moment that you wouldn't make your deadline but I knew you could do it. No for the hard part...a DECISION!

No rest for the weary...

Thanks for playing and thanks for being the best Smackdown cheerleader ever!


Jenny said...

Yay! You made it and what you made looks and sounds really good (despite the fact I'm vegetarian.)

I've only cooked with grapes once and had them explode.

Mike Rudd aka @marketingmiker said...

Carfagna's has great eats and meats! Looks tasty!

LaDivaCucina said...

ARGGGGFGFGGGGHHHHH! blogger ate my longasss comment to give me a box "Create your own blog!" grumble...

LaDivaCucina said...

Here we go again...

Eggy! I have just read your previous posts and am so glad you've been treating yourself to so many fine meals for your birthday! What a wonderful time you've had! Thanks for sharing.

I'm beginning to wonder if living in a colder climate has anything to do with the bounty of so many great restaurants and cafes in your part of the world? Down here in Miami, we are outside boating, swimming, biking, seems to me with winter time you have more inside time to create? Just a theory!!! (and I'm jealous, we don't have nearly enough creative restaurants and cafes!)

LOVE the grape, cabbage sausage combo and think even though it was by default, the choice of red pepper sausage to reallly compliment the sweetness of the grapes? Looks delicious and you could be the winner, me thinks.

I recently did a roasted grape and thyme appetizer with lemon ricotta on a crostini, divine! Just treat the grapes as you would a grape tomato!

By the way, was NOT surprised at all by the Top Chef winner, were you?

I'm UP and good luck and thanks again for rounding up the troops, you rock, Mizz Eggy! xo

Buzz Kill said...

A very Mediterranean looking dish. You could probably substitute lamb in for the sausage if you were so inclined. I would have thought the grapes would have burst like cranberries (and maybe they should so you don't have hot juice burning your mouth). Nice dish.

I haven't seen all of the Top Chef episodes this season, but I saw the finale and the right chef won. I had this person picked several episodes ago. And a drunk Padma at judge's table is always hot. Bwahahaha

troll said...

Sounds very nice. Didn't see many Top Chef episodes but Ed Lee and the Asian Guy from Texas both seemed to be great cooks and decent people.

Wine grapes are quite different but hey, if it worked, it worked!

eatdrinkandbemarried said...

Such a great way to combine some of my favorite ingredients! Thanks for sharing and again, thanks for introducing me to this challenge -- love all the new recipes I'm learning and great blogs to add to my list.

Sharon Rudd said...

Granny, good luck with the judging – didn’t we have some smashing entries this time?

Boxer, ouch to bursting hot grapes! Thankfully, mine just split rather than exploding :)

Mike! I love Carfagna’s and haven’t been there in far too long. Must come visit you and Jill soon and make a stop there.

Diva! So glad you were able to join in after all, but sorry to hear blogger ate your comment. Hmm, don’t know whether our climate impacts our restaurant offerings, but I am so delighted with the caliber of food we’ve got around here! Despite the economy, we’ve had a bunch of great new places open recently – can’t wait to check ‘em all out. Re: the sausages, actually, I think what I liked most was that their spiciness balanced out the sweetness of the grapes. Must try your crostini idea!

Buzz, wow, lamb sounds like a great twist!

Troll, actually the grapes I used verged on being too sweet for my taste. Seemed they got sweeter when they cooked.

Eat, Drink and Be Married, I’m SO glad you joined in. And your entry is awesome. I hope you’ll stick around and participate again.

To all of you who commented on Top Chef, yeah to Paul Qui’s (not unexpected) win! If my local/regional fave, Ed Lee, couldn’t take the title, I am happy to see it go to Paul. He’s been impressive all season, and I liked seeing him take charge of his kitchen last night. He seems extremely talented, and I would love to taste his food!

Thanks again to everyone who threw down for Battle Cabbage this month – you guys are the best! I’ll be around to see the last few entries tonight.


Sharon Rudd said...

Battle Cabbage results are up at Granny's!

Congrats to our talented newcomer Leah of Eat, Drink and Be Married!

Meanwhile, it's been a rough day here in the midwest. Friend Cindie is safe, although her home was damaged by the tornado that hit Moscow. A friend of theirs was killed. Thanks to all who have checked in on me and asked after her.

moi said...

What a delicious-looking dish! A friend's mother used to make chicken with grapes and bernaise, which I loved. I haven't used grapes in cooking in years . . .

So sorry to hear about friend Cindie's home and the loss of her friend. The news is devastating to watch. Glad you're safe and thanks for taking the time to answer your tag. It WOULD be fun to slip into the skin of a top notch chef, wouldn't it?