Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Weary

Around this time of year, I have to admit that I get tired of the same old rotation of winter vegetables - broccoli, carrots, Swiss chard, and, infrequently, kale. I've tried most of the root vegetables and they are less than appealing, so these three are my standards, plus the kale when I really can't face another meal with the triumvirate.

So, this year, I decided to figure out what to do with cabbage. It's always plentiful, it's quietly pretty, and I don't know much about it, so it presents a nice little challenge. 

When my D.C. brother and his lovely wife were visiting before Christmas, we enjoyed a splendid lunch up in Yountville at Thomas Keller's bistro, Bouchon. All four of us had knockout lunches and, tucked under my perfectly rosy lamb slices was a dollop of braised savoy cabbage that I have been trying to replicate ever since.

That savoy was a revelation, proof that even the lowly cabbage can be made royal in the right hands. It was tender but not limp, sweet and a little buttery. It complemented the lamb perfectly but, honestly, I could have enjoyed just an entire dish of that perfectly cooked cabbage.

I haven't quite mastered it yet, but here's what I know so far:

1. Slice it very thinly and remove any thick, stemmy parts so it will cook evenly.
2. Cook it first quickly in butter, until the cabbage is ever so slightly browned on the edges.
3. Add a modicum of liquid (water, chicken broth, veggie broth - I have tried them all and so far, just the plain water is my favorite).
4. Cover the pan and let it steam until the green brightens a bit and the curlicues relax. If you've added too much liquid, leave it uncovered to evaporate the liquid down to a buttery sauce that coats the leaves.
5. Don't overcook it, or you will get that sour cabbage smell.

The nutty scent will perfume the whole house until your Beloved will hobble down the hall, following his nose, and will ask, "What is that wonderful smell?" Anything that gets My Beloved on his feet these days has my stamp of approval. 

(Thanks for asking - he is making progress and is in a great deal less pain, although he still spends most of the day in bed and his shin still burns/tingles at times. We are working on building up his stamina again after six weeks flat on his back).

If you are finding winter wearying, I can recommend the smooth jazz of braised cabbage. It's not a quick trip to Maui, but it helps.


Blogger Greg said...

I am so ready for summer veg.

Monday, February 02, 2015  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, yes, but we have so far to go before that happens! Even here in CA!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015  
Blogger Katie Zeller said...

I'm doing my last butternut squash tonight - thankfully.... then I can start with the broccoli, cauliflower and my favorite - Savoy cabbage (I have one in the fridge) I like it so much better than the 'white' cabbage. I have a few recipes on my blog (sides, then winter vegetables) and a few more on my site - have a look.

Saturday, February 07, 2015  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Thanks, Katie, I will check it out.

Monday, February 09, 2015  

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