Black-eyed peas add savor to this healthy cold-weather pleaser
Cabbage chili? Yeah, not something you’re likely to find in Texas. But totally worth having.
Particularly since cabbage has almost no calories. Many of us are diet conscious this time of year, so that’s a winner.
But the biggest winner is the flavor. We’ve loaded this dish with lots of dried chile powder and other spices, so it has all the deep chili flavor you expect from, well, chili.
This dish makes a great weekday meal, but it’s good enough to serve at an informal weekend gathering with friends. Like, maybe, for football playoffs or the Super Bowl. Score!
Recipe: Cabbage Chili with Spicy Sausage
You can use any spicy sausage you like in this dish. Mexican chorizo is a natural, but any full-flavored sausage works well (we used kielbasa). Just be sure to choose a sausage with lots of flavor. Sausage is an accent element in this dish, but its flavor will stand out – and you’ll definitely be tasting it.
We used dried chile powder to season this dish. You can also use chili (with an i) powder – see Notes for an explanation of the difference. We included a couple of jalapeño peppers for extra flavor. Skip those if you’re heat-adverse.
We suggest using dried black-eyed peas (which don’t need soaking). They’ll cook in 45 minutes to an hour, which is perfect – you need to cook the chili at least 45 minutes in any case to develop the flavor. See Notes if you want to substitute canned beans, or another variety of bean.
This recipe makes a batch large enough for a crowd – 4 to 5 quarts. But chili freezes well, so you can save some for later. Leftovers will also keep for a few days in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container.
Prep time for this recipe is 20 to 30 minutes. Cooking time adds about an hour, mostly unattended. You can make most of the dish ahead of time, then refrigerate it (prepare through Step 10). When ready to serve, just add the cabbage and cook for an additional 15 minutes (Steps 11 and 12).
- 12 ounces dried black-eyed peas (~2 cups)
- 2 onions (about 2 cups, or a bit less, when chopped)
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
- 2 jalapeño peppers (or to taste; optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (can substitute any cooking oil of your choice)
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us)
- 2 to 3 potatoes (about a pound total, although exact quantity isn’t critical)
- 10 to 16 ounces spicy sausage (whatever kind you like; see headnote)
- 2 tablespoons dried chile powder (we recommend ancho or medium Hatch; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon dried coriander
- 1 tablespoon dried cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 8 cups water (add more during the cooking process if necessary)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- additional salt to taste
- ~1½ pounds cabbage (either green or Savoy; about ½ large head)
- garnish of jalapeño slices (optional)
- Sort through the dried black-eyed peas, picking out and discarding any stones or pieces of grit. Place the black-eyed peas in a large bowl, fill the bowl with water to wash them, then drain the beans. Set aside.
- Peel the onions and cut them into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince or dice it finely. Set aside.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers (if using) and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice, or use a mini food processor (reserve a slice or two of the pepper for garnish). Set the chopped peppers aside, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Place a large cooking pot (one that holds at least 6 quarts) on medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onions. Season to taste with salt (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt), and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the potatoes and peel them. Cut the potatoes into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cut the sausage lengthwise into halves or quarters. Then slice across the width into pieces of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- After the onion has been sautéing for 5 minutes (Step 5), add the garlic and jalapeño peppers. Sauté for another minute or two. Then add the potatoes and sausage. Sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the chile powder, coriander, cumin, and oregano. Stir to combine, then sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the black-eyed peas, water, and diced tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Taste, and add salt if necessary. Cook at a simmer for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash and dry the cabbage, then cut it in half (reserving one half for another use). Cut the cabbage half into half again (giving you two cabbage quarters), and remove the core. With a knife, shred the cabbage across the width of each quarter (no need to shred as finely as for coleslaw; pieces of about ½ inch will work fine). Set aside.
- After the chili has cooked for 45 minutes, taste it again and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the shredded cabbage, stir it in, then cook for 10 to 15 minutes. The cabbage will be a bit crunchy if you stop cooking after 10 minutes, but its color will be greener. (Also, when you first add the cabbage it'll be pretty voluminous -- it'll fill up the pot. But it cooks down quickly.)
- Serve the chili. Garnish with a slice or two of jalapeño pepper, if desired.
- You can garnish this chili any way you like. We favor jalapeño peppers. But you could also use oyster crackers, diced raw onions, dollops of sour cream, or sprinkles of cheddar cheese. Or try some minced cilantro or parsley.
- What kind of chile powder to use? We like medium Hatch chile powder, but that can be hard to find (we purchase ours online). Ancho chile powder also has great taste, and is fairly mild; most supermarkets stock it these days.
- We use 2 tablespoons of chile powder, which produces a chili that we consider fairly mild. Increase the amount if you want spicier. Or decrease to 1 tablespoon if you don’t want much spice at all.
- You can substitute chili powder for chile powder in this recipe. Remember, chile (with an e) powder contains just powdered dried chiles. Chili (with an i) powder contains chile powder, but also usually includes oregano, cumin, and other flavorings. If you’re using chili powder, we suggest 3 tablespoons – although, as always, season to your taste. You might also want to reduce the cumin, coriander, and oregano by about half, or eliminate them altogether (since these flavors are already in the chili powder).
- We use kosher salt, which is more coarse than regular table salt. That makes it less salty by volume. If you’re substituting regular table salt for kosher, always use less – about half as much as we suggest. If the dish isn’t salty enough, you can always add more later.
- If you prefer to use canned black-eyed peas in this recipe, we suggest 3 cans. Drain them in a strainer, then rinse the gunk off. Add them to the dish in Step 10. Cook for 30 minutes instead of 45, then add the shredded cabbage.
- Want a substitute for black-eyed peas? We haven’t tried it, but we think canned garbanzo beans or kidney beans would work well (use 3 cans).
- Or you could use dried beans: Soak them overnight, then drain the beans and add them to the recipe in Step 10. Cook until tender – likely an hour or so. Add the cabbage when the beans are tender.
“Yum, chili,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Perfect for weather of the same name. Which we’ve been having.”
“I’d call it cold,” I said. “But this heats things up – with or without jalapeños.”
“The sausage is a nice touch, too,” said Mrs K R. “You added just enough.”
“Well, not using enough sausage would be the wurst,” I said.
“Very punny,” said Mrs K R. “But be careful. Cabbage heads could roll.”
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