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Hail cabbage, that less-fashionable kale cousin

March 16, 2015

Cabbage shines with help from savory friends: andouille sausage, bacon and onions.

Zeus was flummoxed: One prophecy predicted this, one predicted that. The god broke out in a cold sweat, which rolled down his body, dropped to the ground and sprung up as cabbage. Explaining the vegetable’s divine stink.

At first cabbage was a spindly plant — according to the botanist’s version of the tale. Over time it amassed its round head and proliferated into the big, bold brassica family — all mustard sharp and broccoli pungent. These days the paparazzi stalk kale, but the curly cutie comes from a long line of celebrity greens.

The nutritionist has it that cabbage is packed with superpowers. The farmer depends on the crop’s cold-weather chops. The cook likes its versatility; those crunchy layers can go coleslaw mild, kimchee bold and sausage-studded spicy — especially now, in the runup to the big day cabbage shares with potatoes and Saint Patrick.

The student of cabbage knows that all of the above are true. Sometimes conflicting perspectives can be equally correct. Just ask the sweaty Zeus.

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SPICY CABBAGE

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

1 green cabbage, about 2 pounds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound smoked andouille sausage, cubed

2 strips bacon, thinly sliced crosswise, see note

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1. Toss: Quarter and core cabbage; slice into thin slivers. Toss with salt and pepper, separating cabbage strands; set aside.

2. Brown: Set a small heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, tumble in sausage cubes and cook, stirring, until brown, about 3-4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out sausage. Drain on paper towels.

3. Crisp: Meanwhile, set a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, toss in bacon slivers and cook, stirring, until crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out bacon and drain on paper towels along with the sausage. Leave rendered bacon fat in the pan.

4. Caramelize: Tumble cabbage, onion and garlic into the hot bacon fat. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, until the vegetables turn a deep caramel brown, 30-35 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, lower heat to prevent scorching.

5. Season: Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Tumble in sausage and bacon and toss until hot. Enjoy.

Note: For ease in slicing, wrap the bacon in waxed paper; freeze 20 minutes.

 

 


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