Eating Cheap and Local: Sausage, Cabbage and Pasta

As promised last week, I am going to write more over the winter about putting to good and healthful use the limited supply of winter vegetables that are available at this time at the local farmers’ markets. Today I’m back with another luscious local dinner recipe that was also healthy, filling and reasonably priced. Nothing like beating you over the head with a wet noodle to get the word out!

Last week at the Gainesville market I stocked up on Lothar Erbe’s expertly carved meats and authentic and original sausages — some of all three. One of the sausages was a German-style bratwurst infused with Dogfish Indian Brown Ale. While browning the sausages in a little bacon grease and oil, I thinly sliced 1/2 an onion, 1/2 a medium fennel bulb and 1/2 a small head of cabbage. I also diced about 1/4 cup of country ham from a package of “bits and pieces” — another one of those indispensable staples in my winter pantry.

When the sausages were done and set aside to drain after about 15 minutes over medium heat, I added the sliced onion and fennel and sauteed those over medium heat for about 10 minutes, then added the country ham and let that cook for about another five minutes and then added the cabbage. Here you will need to lower the heat a little and let the cabbage simmer until it wilts and softens, about 10-15 minutes. Once the cabbage had softened, I sprinkled about 3 tablespoons of flour over it, stirred it in well and cooked it for about 5 minutes, then added 1 1/2 cups of my own chicken stock made from the spare parts of local chickens. This thickened quickly over medium-low heat, so I stirred it constantly, lowered the heat further and let it simmer for about 5 more minutes to blend the flavors.

I seasoned the mixture to taste at this point with salt, lots of pepper and some caraway seed. While all of this was going on, I cooked up about 1/2 package of Cavanna Fettucine that I had broken into smaller pieces before dropping it into the water. Once cooked and drained, I added it to the mixture and tasted once more for seasoning, and it was done. From start to finish, it took me about 45 minutes and I used one package of sausage, 1/2 an onion, 1/2 a fennel bulb, 1/2 a head of cabbage and 1/2 a package of pasta. Total cost: less than $15, and I fed four for dinner. You cannot buy at any restaurant a meal that healthy, that hearty, that delicious or that cheap. Or that fast either.

See you at the market!