Well, mon choux, what shall we say about the lowly cabbage? Cole slaw? Cabbage rolls and cabbage soup? Boiled cabbage? Sauerkraut? Cabbage is certainly presented in a variety of forms, world wide. Easily grown, easily stored, it has been a mainstay of diets everywhere, and it provides a good dose of vitamin C.
I love cabbage rolls, filled with meat and rice, and cooked in a tomato sauce with a little sauerkraut. We have a restaurant in town that specializes in Eastern European food and I enjoy the menu’s cabbage rolls on a cool evening in the fall or winter with a good beer.
There are many variations of cole slaw, from the Dutch word koolsla, meaning cabbage salad, some made with vinegar and oil and some made with mayonnaise. Both have their merits and their fans. I prefer the creamy version, although I rarely prepare it. I have a great recipe, with the unusual addition of cilantro, from one of the Cook’s Illustrated books.
Mac and I enjoy braised red cabbage in the fall and winter. Give me a good pork roast, some kind of potatoes, and red cabbage and we’re in hog heaven, a rather apt expression.
BRAISED RED CABBAGE
(This makes a ton, so feel free to halve the ingredients if you’re not feeding an army.)
1 head red cabbage, 2 pounds, quartered, cored and cut the quarters into thirds
2 T. butter
1 onion, sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 bay leaves
10 juniper berries (optional)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 c. cider vinegar
2 T. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the cabbage in cold water and set aside. In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the onion and apples for 2 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the bay leaves, cabbage, juniper berries, and broth. Cook for 5 minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt. Stir in the vinegar. Add the sugar, salt andpepper and cook for 20 minutes until the cabbage is soft. Give it a stir now and then. Serve and enjoy. (This recipe was adapted from the Food Network.)
COLESLAW – CREAMY
(Don’t let the salting and draining the cabbage section put you off. This is supposed to keep the cabbage crisp. I didn’t mess with it. I just proceeded to prepare the slaw without salting the cabbage. Don’t use the 1 teaspoon of salt, however. It would probably be too salty if you added that much to the final preparation.)
1/2 (one-lb.) head green cabbage, shredded fine or chopped (about 6 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled, shredded
1/3 c. buttermilk
2 T. mayonnaise
2 T. sour cream
1 small shallot,or 2 scallions minced
2 T. minced fresh parsley leaves (or 1 T. cilantro)
1/2 t. cider vinegar (or 1 t. lime juice of using cilantro)
1/4 t. Dijon mustard (omit if using cilantro)
1/2 t. sugar
1/8 t. black pepper or to taste
1. Toss the cabbage and 1 teaspoon salt in a colander or strainer set over a medium bowl. Let stand until the cabbage wilts, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
2. Rinse the cabbage under cold water. Press, but don’t squeeze, to drain. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the wilted cabbage and the carrot in a large bowl.
3. Stir buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, shallot or scallions, parsely or cilantro, vinegar or lime juice, mustard, if using, sugar, 1/4 t. salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Pour the dressing over the cabbage and refrigerate until read to serve. (Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
4. Add more buttermilk, mayo or sour cream if you need to.
Photo courtesy Kentucky Department of Agriculture