Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Italian pot roast with crispy forgotten cabbage

Do you ever pretend a mistake was on purpose?

Take my recent attempt at green cabbage. Originally, I envisioned it as an echo to my red cabbage efforts  (here and here), which both turned out quite successfully: soft, slightly sweet, and mellow from long cooking over low heat.

Repeating this method should not have been a problem, since the rest of the dinner, Marcella Hazan's Pot Roast of Beef Braised in Red Wine, required little supervision. But somehow, I got distracted watching back-to-back episodes of "Mythbusters," left the heat too high, and forgot to check on the cabbage for quite some time. When I did eventually remember it, it was more brown than green and had stuck to the pan.

Mon petit chou! I thought. I've neglected you.

But since it was too late to start anything new, I scraped it out and served it alongside the pot roast.

"Isn't it nice how crispy the cabbage is?" I said to the husband, as if it had been my intention all along. "It adds such a good texture to the whole dinner."

Honestly, I'm happy it turned out that way. Slow-cooked meat gets that pull-apart consistency, which is lovely, but it can benefit from some contrast. So I decided to call my cabbage crispy instead of burnt, and forgotten instead of neglected. I think it adds an air of mystery to it.

As nicely as the cabbage turned out, I realize the pot roast is the more desirable part of this dinner, and that is probably the recipe you'd like to see. But while it's simple to make, it's long to type out. And, I highly recommend you add Marcella's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking to your collection. This book is not only full of excellent recipes, but countless techniques that I have now integrated into all of my cooking. But if you really want the recipe, email me and I'll scan it and send it to you.

Crispy Forgotten Cabbage

1 head of cabbage, red or green, thinly sliced
3 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. Add garlic, and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add cabbage, liberal sprinklings of salt and pepper, and toss. Turn up the heat to medium-high and cook for 30-45 minutes, depending on how you prefer it, stirring occasionally. But not too often: you want it to get, you know, crispy. Check seasoning before serving. In my opinion, cabbage needs a fair amount of salt.

That concludes my cabbage recipes for the time being. Thanks for hanging in there, I know they're not the most glamorous little guys. But even the drabbest winter vegetables deserve their moment in the spotlight.


  1. This is so true in so many ways -- Mythbusters totally makes me forget about the rest of the world, even if something's in the oven and very likely on fire; and cabbage is often the forgotten vegetable in general. I think people think of it as filler in other foods like tacos or for cold salads like slaw. Maybe too many people had it cooked badly, but you're right, it sears marvelously and it makes for a great non-starchy side. I made red cabbage not long ago, which not only looked pretty, it takes strong flavors of cider vinegar so nicely!

  2. Funny post...and as I mentioned a couple posts ago, I love cabbage this way. Sans garlic, so when I make it again, I will add garlic.

    It's actually one of the recipes in the old South Beach Diet book. I doubt they brown it as much as I do, but it's in there. I tend to do this to all my veggies when I'm watching my weight as it gives them so much more flavor!

  3. Heh, awesome. I love it when stuff like that happens. Crispy cabbage sounds good, I'll have to try it next time I get a head.

  4. never ever admit anything...

    reminds me of Julia Child... When you are alone in the kitchen, just put it back together, and...

    Who's to know???

  5. Hee hee, I did that recently except with Napa cabbage. I was trying to make Lion's Head Casserole and forgot to turn the heat down to simmer. Unfortunately, overcooked burnt napa becomes sour and just not too pleasant to eat. The "crisp" cabbage, on the other hand, looks great!

  6. I forgot to mention - I like the redesign! The persimmons picture is really nice.

  7. Ha - its all the phrasing, right?!

    I love meat that pulls apart like that - its just so comforting!

    I'll see if my library has that book - I cheat and get my cookbooks at the library, then just scan the ones I like! :D

  8. Hungry Dog, You are so right about Marcella Hazan....she is a master! I use many of her techniques myself. Funny how we incorporate the things we learn into new recipes.
    The cabbage sounds delicious. I have burnt many things in my day, but I am not sure I ever passed it off as successfully as you! Great job.

  9. Haha, I was also reminded of Julia Child. I am reading 'My Life in France' right now, and there was a passage about how you are never supposed to admit when you screwed something up in the kitchen. If you can cook, even just decently, the people who are eating your food probably think it is amazing even if you completely messed it up! I think it looks very tasty indeed, lovely recipe. :-)

    -Hollow Peas

  10. Just goes to show that some of the tasty things are created by mistake. Any professional chef will tell you the same thing, too, and point you to the best-sellers on their menu that started that way, too. ;)

  11. Word up Hungry Dog. Happy 2010 from all of us at Casa Dong-Avila. Getting caught up on your posts and feeling hungrier by the minute. Keep it up!! Looking forward to more great writing and photos in the year ahead. Let's meet up for lunch sometime soon.

  12. Ha ha ha, you should work in advertising Hungry Dog :) I actually like browned bits on my green cabbage ( Indian style with tumeric and mustard seeds). That meat looks sooooo tender - thansk for the recommendation, another book to put on the ever expanding wish list.

  13. What a delicous hearty meal! What time should I arrive for dinner daaaaahling?
    *kisses* HH

  14. denise: Another Mythbusters fan, awesome.

    A Year on the Grill: Yes, maybe I was channeling Julia! She is my role model... :)

    Jen: Duly noted about napa cabbage. Yikes. And thanks for the compliment about the photo!

    biz319: I think it's GREAT to use the library as a resource--who could possibly afford all the cookbooks they might want? And thanks for stopping by!

    Pam: I am positive you've pulled off a lot more than I have in the kitchen! :)

    Hollow Peas: DOn't you love that book? I might have to reread it...

    Stace: Happy new year to you all too! Thanks for checking in. I'll email you about lunch/dinner!

  15. Popped in from Barbara's to say hi! This looks wonderful!

  16. What a hilarious recipe! I've never read one that purposely tries to burn something. BTW, so glad you cooked a cabbage that wasn't red. ;-)

  17. Blonde Duck: Thank you, and thanks for stopping by!

    Ben: Hey, call it carmelization, not burning, please! ;)

  18. Great attitude! No need to make excuses in the kitchen. Looks like a great winter night dish.

  19. The brown caramelized parts may be my favorite thing about stuffed cabbage. Kinda like how brussels sprouts are absolutely amazing when you brown the hell out of them.

  20. Olga: thanks, and thanks for visiting!

    croquecamille: Totally agree about the brussels sprouts. Super browned...and with bacon is the best.

  21. I love things that are a little burned. Crispy, that's important in a meal, I think. It's the browned bits that stick to the pan that are the best!

    This looks really good!

  22. Hey, browned food tastes good, as Chef Anne Burrell says. I think it sounds great, no matter if it's crispy or not! I second (third?) the motion about how great very browned brussels sprouts are - especially when roasted. But then again .. they are just mini cabbages, right??

  23. Kate: the browned bits are where the flavor is, right?

    nightowlchef: yep, brussels sprouts are just cabbages in cute form. I sure hated them as a kid but love them as an adult...

  24. a blessing in disguise, i say! browning does some wonderful things to so many food items, so why should cabbage be any different?