Justin Simoneaux knows to leave well enough alone. The Louisiana native, who grew up eating his mom’s cabbage casserole at family holidays, replicates her flavor-packed dish at Boxing Room in San Francisco. The recipe, which combines cabbage, beef and peppers with a heavy-handed dose of cream, utilizes white rice to soak up the excess liquid. Simoneaux’s one tweak: He uses sharp cheddar rather than American cheese. At the restaurant, Simoneaux serves the casserole alongside sweet-tea-brined pork chops and black peas. We think the casserole is just as easily the star of the table all by itself.
Recipe adapted from Justin Simoneaux, Boxing Room, San Francisco
Yield: One 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole
¼ cup white rice, uncooked
1 head cabbage, sliced into ½-inch slices
1 pound 80-20 ground beef
¾ stick unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 green bell pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 red bell pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
2 celery stalks, chopped (about ½ cup)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
½ pound sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, soak the white rice in enough cold water to cover; set aside. Bring a large stockpot full of salted water to a boil and add the cabbage slices. Cook until tender, 2 minutes. Drain the cabbage, place in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the beef and cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the beef to the bowl with the cabbage and set aside.
3. Drain the fat from the skillet and add the butter. Turn the heat down to medium. When the butter is melted, add the onion, green pepper, red pepper and celery. Cook until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and cheddar and heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted. Drain the rice then add it to the vegetable mixture. Stir in the reserved cabbage and ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a 13-inch-by-9-inch casserole dish and place in the oven. Bake until golden brown on top and set, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.
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