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Cooking

Recipes for braised cabbage

Low, slow oven braising brings out fall and winter vegetable’s best.

Molly Stevens’s elemental braised cabbage.
Molly Stevens’s elemental braised cabbage.Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty/Jim Scherer

As vegetables go, cabbage has a bad name. Certain cooking methods, though, can restore its reputation — and in my book, braising is among the best. A long stay in the oven with some aromatics and a bit of flavorful liquid brings out cabbage’s sweet, nutty flavors. I think these make great fall and winter side dishes to suit almost any type of meat, fish, or fowl.

MOLLY STEVENS’S ELEMENTAL BRAISED CABBAGE

Serves 6

This is adapted — barely, because hers is great — from Molly Stevens’s All About Braising. She suggests final fillips of either flaky sea salt or a restrained splash of balsamic vinegar, both of which are good, as is the lemon.

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3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1½ tablespoons for the dish

2 pounds green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges

Salt and black pepper

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick coins

1 large onion, sliced thick

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or more, to taste

2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth, plus 3 tablespoons, if needed

1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions, whites and greens

Lemon wedges, for serving, optional

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Smear a large baking dish with 1½ tablespoons of oil. Add the cabbage, turn to coat with oil, and arrange in a single layer (if necessary, overlap thin sides). Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste.

In a medium bowl, toss the carrots, onion, 3 tablespoons oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste, then scatter evenly over the cabbage. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, add the 2/3 cup broth, cover the dish tightly with foil, and braise until very tender, about 1¾ hours, turning the cabbage after 50 minutes. Remove the foil, adjust oven temperature to 450 degrees, and roast until the vegetables brown a little, 15 to 20 minutes (if the pan begins to look too dry, add the extra broth). Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Sprinkle with scallions just before serving with the lemon wedges, if using.

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TIP: When you trim the cabbage, remove any blemished outer leaves but keep the core. A bit of core in each wedge helps hold the leaves together as they cook.
TIP: When you trim the cabbage, remove any blemished outer leaves but keep the core. A bit of core in each wedge helps hold the leaves together as they cook.Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

VARIATIONS

> Cider-Braised Cabbage With Apples and Bacon

Follow the directions for Molly Stevens’s Elemental Braised Cabbage, making the following changes:

1) In a large skillet over medium-low heat, fry 6 slices thick-cut bacon (about 8 ounces) until rendered and browned, about 10 minutes. Drain bacon on paper towels, chop, and reserve. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat with 1½ tablespoons neutral oil. Substitute bacon fat-oil mixture for the olive oil, and use 1½ tablespoons to coat cabbage wedges in baking dish as directed.

2) Omit the carrots. Peel, core, and cut 2 medium baking apples into ½-inch chunks (about 3 cups); reserve 1½ cups. In a small bowl, toss remaining apple chunks and onion with 1½ tablespoons bacon fat-oil mixture to coat and scatter over cabbage as directed.

3) Substitute 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme for the red pepper flakes, and apple cider for the broth.

4) In a small bowl, toss reserved apple chunks with remaining ½ tablespoon bacon fat-oil mixture. After braising and removing foil, roast cabbage for 8 minutes. Scatter the reserved apples and chopped bacon over the cabbage and continue roasting until the vegetables brown a little and the apples are just tender, 7 to 12 minutes longer. Continue as directed and serve hot.

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> Braised Cabbage With Triple Creme Cheese

This is also inspired by Stevens, who favors Saint-Marcellin and advises against Brie or Camembert. I think that Saint Andre and Explorateur, both of which are relatively common, are also good choices. And at the risk of shocking Stevens, I’d say you can also use Camembert in a pinch.

Follow the directions for Molly Stevens’s Elemental Braised Cabbage, making the following changes:

1) Omit the carrots and use 2 medium onions.

2) After braising and removing the foil, remove the rind from about 6 ounces Saint-Marcellin, Saint Andre, Explorateur, or Camembert, and cut or pinch the cheese into 1-inch pieces, then scatter over the vegetables. Roast until the vegetables brown a little and the cheese is melted and starting to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

3) Rest the dish for about 5 minutes and serve hot.

> Wine-Braised Cabbage With Garlic and Parmesan

Follow the directions for Molly Stevens’s Elemental Braised Cabbage, making the following changes:

1) Substitute peeled, smashed cloves from 2 heads of garlic and one 2-inch piece of Parmesan rind for the carrots.

2) Substitute 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme for red pepper flakes, and white wine for the broth.

3) After braising and removing the foil, remove the Parmesan rind and scatter about ½ cup grated Parmesan (about ½ ounce) over the vegetables. Roast until the cheese is browned, about 12 minutes.

4) Drizzle cabbage with 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, substitute parsley for scallions, and serve hot.

> Beer-Braised Cabbage With Mustard

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Follow the directions for Molly Stevens’s Elemental Braised Cabbage, making the following changes:

1) Substitute neutral oil for the olive oil. Increase the salt sprinkled on the cabbage to ½ teaspoon.

2) Omit the carrots and use 2 medium onions.

3) Substitute 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme for the red pepper flakes, and lager beer mixed with 1½ tablespoons grainy mustard for the broth.


Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.