The recipe for a wonderful family meal is sometimes really simple and hearty stew is often the central part of this equation. At first glance the name “swamp cabbage stew” might not sound delicious, but it is extremely yummy.

The name comes from the native swamp cabbage (sabal palmetto) that grows in Florida from which this stew was first made. This plant is now protected by conservation laws and today most people use canned hearts of palm or the more-available green cabbage, the latter of which can be found in any grocery store without fuss.

The addition of pork to this dish is traditional, such as ribs, salt pork, or pork shanks that were cooked beforehand and added to the stew before the simmering phase. But, this recipe calls for 1 pound of thick cut bacon, cooked and then chopped roughly, which is much easier to process.

You’ll also need to reserve a small amount of the bacon grease for sautéing the onions and cabbage. This is very much an old fashioned recipe!

Once the vegetables are cooked you add in the tomato juice, canned tomatoes, jalapeño, sugar, garlic, and thyme.

Then just let the whole thing simmer for 30-40 minutes partially covered and season to taste with salt and pepper.

The stew is best served over white rice with about 1/4 cup of the chopped bacon served on top of each portion. The meal comes together so easily and you’ve got your carbs, protein, and vegetables all in one serving.

Even if you can’t get to the swamp, this Florida favorite might just become your go-to stew in the future.

Serves 6

40 minutes

  • 1 pound thick-cut slab bacon
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 head green cabbage, chopped OR 1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, drained and cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 16-ounce can tomato juice
  • 2-3 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
  1. Heat medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until crispy, saving back the bacon grease. Set aside bacon on paper towels.
  2. Use 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat to sauté the onions and cabbage in a large stock pot until just starting to brown
  3. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, jalapeño, thyme, and sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Simmer 30-40 minutes partially covered.
  5. Chop bacon into small pieces.
  6. Serve over rice with 1/4 cup bacon crumbled on top of each portion.

Recipe adapted from Saveur.

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