Saturday, November 20, 2010

Memories of Leavenworth

Recently I found myself reminiscing about a trip that we took this summer to Leavenworth, a little town here in the Pacific Northwest which has strangely taken on a Bavarian theme since 1962.  Everything from the architecture, the festivals, and especially the food there has taken on a German theme. 
When you are driving into town it really does look like some of those photos you seen of Bavaria and you suddenly feel transported to another place, without the hassle of airport security, crappy airline food, and just....well...the inconveniences of flying.  So looking back on that trip I fondly remembered the bratwurst that we had when we visited, (along with the amazing beer, but that's another story) and I felt a sudden urge to create a recipe at home to bring those flavors we experienced back to life.  So in preparing this recipe I wanted to make some attempt at paying a homage to fall, since I have a premonition that fall is leaving and taking her goodies with her (the forecast for snow here kinda helps with this notion).
Unfortunately on the night I had scheduled myself to make this dish I was not on my best behavior, in fact, I was being a bit of a s$%^ (shocker).  I distinctly remember having a small temper tantrum in the kitchen as I was putting this dish together saying out loud to myself how crappy my blog was, how no one was reading it anyway, and how this stupid !#$%*&#* recipe sucked and I just wanted to chuck it all.  After some very strange looks from my husband, who I think was convinced I was losing my mind, I calmed myself down, guzzled a glass of wine and ate what I had convinced myself to be a lousy dinner.  Needless to say, it was surprisingly not crappy, actually it was pretty damn good, and I found myself all of a sudden feeling much better about my universe (although the guzzling of a second glass of wine may have been the cause of such elation).  But most importantly this dish DID bring me back to this past summer, and brought back all the memories of a great trip spent with the people I love, and for that this recipe is precious to me.

Braised Red Cabbage And Apples With
Bratwurst and Sweet Potato Cakes

Braised Cabbage:

1 small head of red cabbage thinly sliced
1 small sweet onion sliced
2 apples peeled and diced
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups apple cider
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped

Sweet Potato Cakes

2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and quartered
1 sweet onion diced
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley finely chopped
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


6 fresh bratwurst
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot diced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the braised cabbage: Heat the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat until melted.  Add the apples and onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the cabbage and remaining ingredients.  Cover and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 25 minutes.  Uncover and cook an additional 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced. 
For the bratwurst: In a large pan heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the sausages and brown on both sides.  Remove sausages from pan and set aside.  To the pan add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the broth, wine and mustard and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.  Add the sausages and cook until the sausages are heated through.

For the sweet potato cakes: Boil the sweet potatoes until very soft, about 25 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  In a small pan melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Using a food processor process the sweet potatoes until relatively smooth.  Put the sweet potato puree in a small bowl and add the cooked onions.  Allow to cool.  Once cool add the egg, panko, flour and remaining ingredients.  Stir until well combined.  Using well floured hands mold the potato mixture into small patties.  In a medium pan heat the olive oil and cook the cakes until browned on both sides and heated through, about 4 minutes per side. 

Serve the sausages with the cabbage and potato cakes and drizzle with the sauce.

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