Tuesday, December 5, 2006

"The Famous American Recipes Cookbook" & "The St. Paul Farmers Market Produce Cookbook" - Western Roast w/German Sweet-Sour Red Cabbage w/ Apples

Date I made these recipes: October 15, 2006

The Famous American Recipes Cookbook by John and Marie Roberson
Published by Prentice-Hall, Inc.
© 1957
Recipe: Western Roast – p. 54

The St. Paul Farmers Market Produce Cookbook by the St. Paul Growers Association
Published by the St. Paul Growers Association
ISBN: 0-966-9575-0-4
© 1999
Recipe: German Sweet-Sour Red Cabbage with Apples – p. 50

I concluded long ago that in Minnesota there are two seasons, summer (which constitutes anything above oh, shall we say, 30 degrees?) and winter, which comes hot on the (no pun intended) heels of summer. Spring is just a brief after thought and fall is that brief two-second period where the leaves fall off the trees. And that’s that. (Note, many people from Minnesota will tell you that the two seasons are winter and road construction – same thing).

So…winter arrived in the year 2006 approximately October 10, my Auntie Mare’s birthday (which happens to be the day after mine), in the form of snow flurries and bitingly cold 30 degree temperatures. Our early winter lasted for three days.

Lest you think we’re a bunch of woosies who can’t handle 30 degrees, let me just give the standard Minnesota response to why it was intolerable: “The temperature wasn’t bad but it was the wind.” (In the summer, substitute “humidity” – same thing).

Naturally, the perfect thing to make just after the advent of this early winter was a roast and people, I hit the jackpot. This roast was so very, very nummy (plus, I had to admit, I was very, very hungry) that I just swooned. Ate and swooned, ate and swooned.

Although the recipe was called Western Roast, the fruit (prunes and apricots) made me think of Germany which made me think the perfect accompaniment would be sautéed red cabbage.

The “roast” cookbook had a cabbage recipe but I decided to “shop locally” and so made a very similar one from the St. Paul Farmer’s Market Cookbook.

St. Paul, Minnesota has a wonderful farmer’s market, or so I’m told by my husband, who has ventured out a few times early in the morning to shop for the freshest of groceries, usually for a dish to be served at a party here and there. (But I have shopped at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York, go figure). The website for the market is http://www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com/

Lack of intimate knowledge of the market did not stop me, however, from buying the cookbook a few years ago and the time was just right for the cabbage with apples, apple cider and, if you chose to add it (and I did), a bit of red wine. I personally loved the note that said the cabbage could be frozen for future dinners – as if it would last that long!

The roast is easy to make although it does take a while since it’s basically a braised roast – slow simmered over a low flame until the meat is absolutely tender. The cabbage was perfect and just to complete the meal I boiled a few red potatoes to add that extra je ne sais quoi (or, fill in your best German saying here) to the meal. This is a home run dish, perfect for the World Series… the start of the football season, fall golf, leaf bagging day or Oktoberfest.

Western Roast
3 T. lard or drippings
3 ½ to 4 ½ pound bottom or eye of round, boned and rolled
2 onion, sliced
¼ tsp powdered cloves (Note: same as ground cloves)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 T. brown sugar
1 c. cider
¾ c. dried apricots, soaked until plump
¾ c. dried prunes, soaked until plump

Heat lard (I used olive oil and it worked just fine) in a heavy pan or Dutch oven. Brown meat evenly on all sides. Add onions and cook until golden brown. Add seasonings, sugar and cider. Cover tightly and simmer for 2 ½ hours. Drain the fruit and add it, with more water or cider if necessary. Cover and cook for 30 minutes longer. Transfer the meat and fruit to a hot platter (I did not heat my platter and no harm occurred to the roast while platting). Skim off the fat and pour cider-flavored gravy over the meat (and I skipped that part too. So sue me!) Serves 8.

German Sweet-Sour Red Cabbage with Apples (a prized family recipe)
1 medium head red cabbage
1 T. butter
1 large onion, diced
1 c. apple cider or water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
4 medium apples (Macintosh or any other tart-sweet apple is recommended)
½ c. white vinegar
¼ tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp black pepper
¼ c. red wine (optional)

Shred and chop cabbage. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Sauté onion until transparent, but do not brown. Add cabbage and mix well, sautéing lightly. Add cider or water, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and allow to simmer. Meanwhile, peel and chop apples. Add to cabbage and simmer 45 minutes to one hour, until apples are soft and cabbage is well cooked. Add vinegar, sugar, cloves, pepper and red wine, if desired. Simmer 15 minutes longer to blend flavors. Adjust sweetness and sourness with more sugar and/or vinegar to taste.

Note: Maybe it was just my cabbage but I had to cook this dish longer than the hour shown above to get the cabbage “well cooked” (which to me means really soft). If you like your cabbage to be a little crisper, then stick to the 45 minutes to 1 hour time frame.

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