Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ingredient Spotlight: Cabbage

Maybe cabbage makes you envision a boiled mess of ghoulishly limp, translucent greenery on your plate at grandma's house. Next to the liverwurst and brussel sprouts. I'm sorry for your loss, because. . .

Cabbage is the frugal gourmand's best friend.

image by Jenny-Bee (Creative Commons)

Usually, you can find it for 49-69 cents a pound in my neck of the woods; and happily, it's on the Clean Fifteen so you don't have to worry too much about buying organic. This week, though, it's been 39 cents a pound.

 Don't you love how things go on sale before holidays? If you're out and about today you might be able to find a great deal, too. Google your local grocery stores: most of them should have their weekly ads online.

I snagged a great big head of cabbage for just 61 cents, and it is destined to steam atop a mass of corned beef and cabbage. (There isn't an ounce of Irish sap in my family tree, but my mom always, always has made a big pot of corned beef and cabbage to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. So I can't really help it. Sorry.)

Even if corned beef isn't your thing, there are loads of things you can do with a head of cabbage without boiling it to death. Here are three good recipes:

Sometimes I will cut a round out of the center of a cabbage—when it's so fresh it squeaks, and the layers near the center are sweet and juicy--and just eat it plain and raw.

But my favorite way to prepare it was inspired by Orangette's magnificent post on cabbage. Here's how I've slightly modified it.

This Girl's Decadent Braised Cabbage

  • 1/2 a head of cabbage, quartered
  • 1 small onion sliced into rings
  • Chicken broth to the depth of a centimeter in your baking pan
  • A bay leaf and 3 peppercorns
    • Olive oil for drizzling
    • A sprinkling of kosher salt and caraway seed
    • Sometimes I add thyme and red pepper flakes, too
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour chicken broth into your baking pan (I usually use an 11"x7") and add the bay leaf and peppercorns.
    2. Place the cabbage in the pan, and top with onion rings.
    3. Drizzle it all with olive oil to make it sticky, then sprinkle with coarse salt and caraway seed (and other herbs or spices if you see fit.)
    4. Cover with aluminum foil and steam in the oven for an hour. Uncover and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, just to give things a bit of a crisp edge.
    5. Devour the entire pan in one sitting by yourself. (optional.)

    If you needed any further persuading, cabbage is a great source of Vitamins C and K. . .This was a horrid post to write at one in the morning, because now my stomach is growling. Oh well, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    Is cabbage on your menu today?