Spicy Brats-Stuffed Pork Loin on Smothered Cabbage

Spicy Brats-Stuffed Pork Loin on Smothered Cabbage
This pork dish is perfect for the Christmas table! (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Recently, I was introduced to a German-born butcher named Lothar Erbe. His meat products are known far-beyond his Purcellville, Va. butcher shop. Upon our meeting, I felt inspired to create a pork dish that would be fit for the Christmas table. Here it is!

Prep Time: 3½ hours

Yields: 6­­­ to 8 servings

Stirrin' It Up: Spicy Brats-Stuffed Pork Loin on Smothered Cabbage (Dec. 12, 2019)

Ingredients for Brats-stuffed Pork Loin:

6 (6-inch) spicy bratwurst sausage links

1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed

Smothered Cabbage (see recipe below)

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp ground mace

1 tsp ground marjoram

1 tsp ground cardamom

salt and black pepper to taste

granulated garlic to taste

½ cup bacon fat or olive oil

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup water

2 cups diced red onions

1 cup diced green bell peppers

1 cup diced red bell peppers

1 cup diced yellow bell peppers

½ cup peeled and thinly sliced garlic

2 fresh bay leaves

2 cups beef stock

1 cup German-style Pilsner beer

Method for Brats-stuffed Pork Loin:

Preheat oven to 365°F.

On a large cutting board, place pork loin and cut a (1-inch) slit through the center of the loin lengthwise to create a pocket for stuffing the sausage. Using a knife, cut several tiny holes into casing of bratwurst. Push three bratwurst into the pocket, trimming off the excess of bratwurst from each end of the loin. Slice the remaining bratwurst into ⅛-inch rounds and set aside.

Season roast completely with cayenne pepper, caraway seeds, mace, marjoram, cardamom, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.

In a large Dutch oven or roasting pan, heat bacon fat or olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown pork loin on each side, turning occasionally. Take care not to burn the bacon fat. Remove pork from Dutch oven and set aside. Remove Dutch oven from heat and keep warm.

In a 9-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water, swirling pan occasionally to create a caramel.

NOTE: Do not stir sugar with a spoon during cooking process. Adjust heat as necessary to brown caramel evenly, taking care not to scorch.

While caramel is cooking, return Dutch oven with bacon fat to medium-high heat. Into the bacon drippings, add onions, bell peppers, and sliced garlic. Cook vegetables 7–10 minutes or until wilted, stirring occasionally.

Add reserved sliced bratwurst, blending well into the seasoning mixture, and cook 5–7 minutes.

Add beef stock and beer, bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to a simmer. Return pork loin to the pot. Drizzle caramel around the outer edge of the pork loin into the liquid. Cover pot tightly and bake 2–2½ hours or until pork loin is fork-tender.

While pork loin is baking, prepare Smothered Cabbage.

Remove pork loin from pot and allow to rest 20 minutes before slicing. When ready to serve, place smothered cabbage onto the bottom of a large serving platter, slice roast and shingle over the mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and black pepper.

Ingredients for Smothered Cabbage:

1 large head cabbage

¼ pound andouille sausage, sliced

2 tbsps olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1 cup diced celery

½ cup diced bell peppers

¼ cup minced garlic

3 large carrots, peeled and cut into (1-inch) pieces

1 cup sliced green onions

1½ cups chicken stock

salt and black pepper to taste

granulated garlic to taste

½ cup chopped parsley

Method for Smothered Cabbage:

Quarter cabbage and discard the center heart and large exterior leaves. Chop each quarter into 2–3 pieces, separate leaves, then set aside.

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add andouille, onions, celery, bell peppers, minced garlic, carrots, and green onions. Sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted, stirring constantly.

Add cabbage and sauté 10–15 minutes or until leaves are wilted, stirring occasionally.

Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, and allow to simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Add parsley and continue cooking 10–20 minutes or until cabbage and carrots are extremely tender, stirring often.

Remove from heat and keep warm.

NOTE: This dish will be overcooked by most standards. However, this is the method preferred by both Cajuns and Creoles.

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