Milk-Can Supper

From Cook's Country | April/May 2013

Why this recipe works:

Traditionally, cowboys layered a mishmash of vegetables and meat (usually sausage) into a giant milk can and then cooked it over an open fire to feed the hungry masses. We opted for a Dutch oven instead but kept the basic technique: longer-cooking vegetables like potatoes and cabbage go on the… read more

Traditionally, cowboys layered a mishmash of vegetables and meat (usually sausage) into a giant milk can and then cooked it over an open fire to feed the hungry masses. We opted for a Dutch oven instead but kept the basic technique: longer-cooking vegetables like potatoes and cabbage go on the bottom, closest to the heat, followed by more delicate onions and carrots. Green bell peppers are added halfway through the cooking time. Bratwurst was our sausage of choice, and we opted to brown it first to add flavor and create fond. Beer is the classic cooking liquid, and we enhance it with garlic, bay leaves, and thyme.

less

Serves 6 to 8

If your Dutch oven is slightly smaller than 8 quarts, the lid may not close all the way when you start cooking. But as the contents of the pot cook, they will decrease in volume, so you’ll soon be able to clamp on the lid. Use small red potatoes, measuring 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Light-bodied American lagers, such as Budweiser, work best in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds bratwurst (10 sausages)
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 head green cabbage (2 pounds), cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 3 ears corn, husks and silk removed, ears cut into 3 pieces
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, halved and cut through root end into 8 wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beer
  • 2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch-wide strips

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat oil in 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add bratwurst and cook until browned all over, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Transfer bratwurst to cutting board and halve crosswise.

    2. Place potatoes in single layer in now-empty Dutch oven. Arrange cabbage wedges in single layer on top of potatoes. Layer corn, carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper over cabbage. Pour beer over vegetables and arrange browned bratwursts on top.

    3. Bring to boil over medium-high heat (wisps of steam will be visible). Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add bell peppers and continue to simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. (Use long skewer to test potatoes for doneness.)

    4. Transfer bratwurst and vegetables to large serving platter (or roasting pan, if your platter isn’t large enough); discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Pour 1 cup cooking liquid over platter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing remaining cooking liquid separately.

Layers of Flavor

Cooking all the vegetables and sausage in one pot has advantages: It’s easy, the flavors mingle, and the beer and sausage drippings season the lot. But you have to plan ahead to make sure that everything is done at the same time. Knowing that the pot is hottest at the bottom (closest to the heat source), we put the longest-cooking items in first and layer everything else accordingly.

TAKE IT FROM THE BOTTOM: Potatoes, cabbage, corn, carrots, onions, bratwurst, and peppers (added halfway through).

What's a Milk Can?

Q: What’s a milk can?

A: A big metal can that, back in the day, farmers used to transport milk from the farm to the dairy, where the milk would be processed.

In My Favorites
Please Wait…
Remove Favorite
Add to custom collection