Don’t Boil That Cabbage Down! Escallop It!

Comfort Food Sunday

Comfort Foods Day

Flora and I are still working our way through The Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks. So far we have really enjoyed both the cooking process and the flavors. We like to compare what the recipe says to what we would normally do or consider other ingredients to complement the flavors, as we do with every recipe we come across. We have tried some of them again with alterations to fit the desire or the budget. We have not been disappointed with The Pioneer Woman’s recipes or our alterations! Her recipes have proven that it is a whole lot easier to cook than many people believe it to be.

We were quite hungry when we decided on the menu for this particular Sunday: Classic Pulled Pork from Dinner Time, Bratwurst with Onions and Mushrooms (because I didn’t think I had quite enough pork for everyone…), Mae’s Escalloped Cabbage from Come and Get It, Creamy Rosemary Potatoes from Accidental Country Girl, and Cheesy Chive Biscuits from A Year of Holidays. We won’t pretend it was a healthy meal, admitting we seriously overdid it, but it was totally heartwarming and satisfying. We also didn’t plan very well: we chose too many dishes that required oven time, and, well, my oven is pitiful. Somehow, though, we got it all to come together and still be hot when served.

Bratwurst with Onions and Mushrooms

I love onions. I love mushrooms. If you have followed us at all, you may have noticed our tendency to put them in (or serve them with) just about everything. Since I was cooking up some brats, you just know we had to smother them with onions and mushrooms! When I cook brats (or many other sausages) I generally boil them a bit first, to render out much of the fat. Then I can brown it in a pan, add in the mushrooms, onions, and maybe some green peppers, and let them all caramelize to perfection. On this particular occasion, I didn’t pre-boil the wurst, and it was still really good, but it took so much longer to cook and didn’t really brown very well. Totally delicious, just the same. We did not follow a Pioneer Woman recipe for these.

Mae’s Escalloped Cabbage

The surprise of this meal came in the cabbage dish. I must confess that the recipe calls for Cheez Whiz, and I just don’t do Cheez Whiz. Ever. This open distaste for the stuff made me the brunt of Cheez Whiz jokes (and texted photos) for a few days afterward, but that was okay. I made my own cheese sauce inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Potatoes with Broccoli Cheese Sauce. What makes it special is that you combine both cheddar cheese and pepper jack cheese in it. It was perfect! I do a few extra things to my sauce, like rubbing the bottom of the pan with a slice of garlic before starting, and adding in just a touch of mustard for extra zing.

To make the Escalloped Cabbage, cut a head of cabbage into 6-8 wedges. Make sure you don’t cut the core out yet! Parboil the cabbage wedges for about 2-3 minutes (next time I may do 4-5 minutes to satisfy those who prefer more tender cabbage), then cut the hard core out and lay the wedges on a baking sheet. Pour the cheese sauce over the cabbage and top off with a dash of paprika on each wedge, then let it bake. I thought I was going to like this but I had no idea how much I would end up LOVING it! This is a keeper. (For me, it will never be made with Cheez Whiz. You should know, though, that it is something The Pioneer Woman says is amazing and we just need to trust her on it! I will leave that up to you…)

Creamy Rosemary Potatoes

This was a lovely twist on scalloped potatoes: a creamy, cream-cheesy baked dish with thinly-sliced potatoes and some crushed rosemary. I was concerned that the flavor would be overwhelmingly rosemary, but it wasn’t! It was sweet and savory – quite decadent, in fact. I am sure we will make these again for some of our special meals. This dish comes out of the oven with a golden brown crust and a fragrance that is divine!

Cheesy Chive Biscuits

These are your classic drop biscuits. They were yummy. It was recommended in the recipe to use a scoop to scoop the biscuit dough, and that was something I had never thought of doing before. Flora had, of course! When the biscuits came out of the oven, she brushed some melted butter with chives over the tops of the biscuits. YUM!

Classic Pulled Pork

We’d made this recipe before. Generally it calls for the cut of meat to be pork butt, which has a variety of meat textures and a higher level of fat for the barbecue. It is not my favorite cut of pork for that very reason – I am a meat weenie. This time we used two roasts that I cut from the ends of a large pork loin (leaving the center to be cut into pork chops). The meat was a lot more consistent and didn’t feel like I had to examine every bite to see what I was getting. (MEAT WEENIE!) It was amazing, and we will go back to this pulled pork recipe probably every time we want BBQ. Outstanding!

At the End of the Day…

We were stuffed silly. This was totally NOT a combination of dishes that we would recommend for a healthy meal, but each of the dishes will be the main dish in a meal of its own later. There were no complaints for this happy, food coma’d crowd!