My Insolent-but-Excellent Minion, Jeremy, has asked for the recipes for the last two ways I made cabbage when he happened to be around. He’s at an age when it’s of great use for him to know some crowd-pleasing potluck-worthy vegetable dishes, so these are handy–one for fall/winter, and one for spring/summer.
I. Summer Cabbage Slaw (The One Jeremy Liked Even Though There Was Mayonnaise In It)
Batterie: Knife, cutting board, measuring implements, large salad bowl, whisk. Do I have to say “salt and pepper grinders”, or is that assumed?
- 1 green cabbage (about 3 lbs, or as much as you think will fit in your biggest salad bowl with all the other stuff)
- 1 bunch of scallions
- 1 bunch of parsley (I prefer curly parsley here, but flat parsley would work OK)
- 1 box (I don’t know, maybe 12oz?) sugar snap peas or snow peas
- 2 Granny Smith apples (or 1 Granny Smith and 1 Braeburn, or something else with some snappiness to it–crisp and tart)
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise (“real” or “traditional”–Dukes or Hellmann’s* or someone. Don’t go messing with lowfat nonsense or anything with starches or gums in it unless you’re trying to be nice to some vegans. *I grew up with Hellmann’s, but they apparently made some formula changes that made some folks mad. I didn’t notice because I’ve been buying Duke’s for maybe ten years now.)
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 3 T champagne vinegar (and/or rice vinegar and/or cider vinegar)
- 1 T honey (unless you’re trying to be nice to vegans, in which case agave nectar would work fine)
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried tarragon
- Pinch of celery seed
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash, trim, core, string (etc. as necessary/appropriate) and shred all the fruit and vegetables as finely as you have patience for, shooting for about 1/4 inch pieces or smaller. The order above isn’t so important, but do the apples last–you want them to go into the dressing as soon as possible so they don’t brown. (I should have taken pictures of the size of each item after chopping. Next time.)
2. Whisk the dressing ingredients (from “mayonnaise” on down) together in your salad bowl until smooth. Check for balance by tasting on a piece of cabbage and a piece of apple together–maybe add more honey.
3. Toss apples and scallions in dressing first (to make sure they are thoroughly coated), then add remaining vegetables and toss until well combined. Can serve immediately, but letting it sit around for a while is fine too.
II. Red Cabbage à la Sassienne (this is a pun, because it’s sort of how they make it in Alsace, but really it’s how Sassi Saucier makes it.)
This makes enough for a cabbage-enthused, omnivore potluck. I guess you could omit the bacon or use some fake– no, sorry, I can’t do this. If vegetarians or vegans want cabbage they should make their own adaptations, or find another recipe. For myself for a week I use a small cabbage (<2lb), 1.5 apples, etc., and sometimes I brown a bunch of chicken parts and braise them underneath the cabbage mixture, or I cook sausages and eat them with OMG WHAT WAS I THINKING I HAVE BRATWURST AND I COOKED CHICKEN BREASTS. Oh well. Next time. Winter is long.
Rule of thumb with red cabbage: You gotta cook it away from iron or normal aluminum (so, in an enamel or stainless steel or anodized aluminum pan, or a glass casserole) and plus something acidic. Otherwise it turns into the most depressing mauve-ish gray you have ever seen. Horrible. Apparently adding apples also helps the color, but I’ve never done the Science (e.g., cooking in cast iron but and adding apples but no other acidic ingredients, etc.)
Batterie: Knife, cutting board, very large pot (soup pot or Dutch oven), stirring implement, a measuring tablespoon, a measuring cup. A plate and some tongs will help if you’re using optional meats.
- 1 large red (aka purple) cabbage (3 lbs) (green cabbage is fine too, but red has more depth of flavor)
- 1 red onion
- 1/2 lb bacon (I like a dry-rubbed Black Forest bacon, but you can use any bacon you like; thick-cut is better)
- 3 medium-to-large apples (some combination of Granny Smith and Braeburn, or something else crisp/tart)
- 2 T of trustworthy cooking fat (i.e., pretty much anything other than margarine or Monsanto canola/corn/soy oil. Duck fat gets bonus points, but bacon fat or chicken fat or butter or any vegetable oil would work fine.)
- 4T Dijon mustard
- 3T sherry vinegar + 1 T champagne vinegar (or 4 T apple cider vinegar, whatever–I don’t want the lack of fancy ingredients to deter anyone from cooking these things, OK? OK.)
- 1-2 cups of chicken stock or apple cider (hard or fresh) or apple juice if you have it; otherwise water is fine. (1 cup is enough, but requires you to be a bit more attentive; if you’re on a campfire, 2 cups is safer.)
1. Heat the trustworthy cooking fat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven (not plain cast iron, because depressing mauve) over medium-high heat. If you want to add chicken pieces or sausages or something, brown them now; remove them to a plate; and return them to the pan in step 8.
2. Dice up the bacon and the onion; throw them in the pan.
3. Dice the apples, pausing every half-an-apple to stir the bacon and onions. Once the bacon looks like it has given up whatever fat it’s likely to and is starting to brown, throw the apples in the pan.
4. Shred the cabbage, pausing every 1/4 cabbage or so to stir the bacon/onion/apples.
5. Add the cabbage to the pot and stir well.
6. Mix the mustard, vinegar, and whatever cooking liquid you’re using together with some salt and pepper–adjust your seasoning to your liquid (i.e., more seasoning if you’re using water; less salt if you’re using a salty stock.) You can add herbs here too if you want, and you have them–thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, sage all work well.
7. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil.
8. Add your optional meats back in as appropriate–for chicken, add them back now and cook the whole thing at least another 45 minutes; for sausages, cook the cabbage 15 minutes and then add the sausages for the last 1/2 hour, etc. If not using any meat other than the bacon, just reduce to a low simmer and cook at least 30 minutes. This can sit on the stove or in a low oven or over campfire coals for quite a while, up to an hour and a quarter, with no ill effects, as long as you stir it once in a while and make sure there’s still liquid at the bottom.