a rural feast: cabbage, white bean, and sausage stew

by Chen

Here is something you may or may not know about me. I am obsessed with almost anything old-fashioned/vintage/rustic; for example, retro-style dresses, embellished dinnerware, and T-striped shoes.

How about eating?

There might be some misunderstanding that rustic cooking is quickly fixing anything on hand together until not raw, then eat. However, that’s no more than a way to beat hunger. To me, rustic cooking is to use simple, real, and whole ingredients to prepare a heart-warming meal, which is not easier to carry out than some fancy french dishes.

Why cabbage?

It’s slightly sweet with its unique flavor, especially when cooked thoroughly. It gives a lovely taste but never overrides other ingredients. My mom makes a lot of braised cabbage with grounded pork (Chinese way) since she believes that cabbage is good for stomach. Is this true? I don’t know. But I like cabbages, anyway. And believe it or not, cabbage lives better when it’s with meat.

cabbage, white bean, and sausage stew
Makes 6 servings

1 small head of green cabbage, sliced (I didn’t realize how easy it was to slice a cabbage using a serrated knife until today! Thanks to Alton Brown’s tips on Good Eats!)
1 (15 oz) can cooked white beans, rinsed under water and drained
10-12 oz fresh mild sausage (I got 2 links of great fresh chicken & apple sausage from Whole Foods meat department, but feel free to use any type you like)
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp EVOO or other cooking oil
1/4 cup cooking wine
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese for serving (optional but heavenly good)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Squeeze the sausage out of the case into the hot oil. Break any big pieces and cook until no longer pink. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.

Turn the heat to medium-low and add onion and garlic to the pot. Season with a little salt to help them to soften. Saute until translucent but not browned. Stir in the wine and let the liquid cook down to half. Add cabbage and chicken stock. Turn the heat to medium-high and give everything a good stir. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low. Cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Uncover. Return the sausage along with the white beans to the pot. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the beans are warmed up through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into the bowl and top with Parmesan if needed. To complete the meal, serve this stew with some earthy crackers or bread.

*For the leftover:
I stored individual servings in the pint-size freezer-safe microwave-safe containers, a practical and frugal buy, and kept two servings in the freezer. To warm up, let the whole thing defrost in the cooler then heat the stew with a splash of water in a small sauce pan or simply use the microwave (high-tech rocks~). Prolong the cooking time if not defrosted.