There's just something other-worldly about savoy cabbage, the crinkly-wrinkly still somehow perfect-looking cabbage. This 'smothered' treatment, traditional in Italian cuisine, is completely delicious. If you're looking for a savory Thanksgiving vegetable to pair with sweet potatoes, this would be a great pick.
I found savoy cabbage at Whole Foods but it might not be available everywhere, even in good grocery stores. Could green cabbage be substituted? Yes, I think so but I wouldn't recommend a bag of shredded cabbage, its texture is too fine for this dish.
DECEMBER 2006 UPDATE I made this again for a holiday meal and was even more impressed with the make-ahead versatility of this dish. Because my favorite Italian grocery, Viviano's, had experienced a huge Christmas rush and was out of pancetta, I used thicker-cut proscuitto and liked this just as much.
RECIPE for SMOTHERED CABBAGE
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 4 for every-day servings, 8 in small servings for a large meal like Thanksgiving
1/4 pound pancetta (or proscuitto or bacon) finely chopped (I used 10 thin-thin slices, not even close to 4 ounces, it was plenty)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine (1 teaspoon dried rosemary, bruised and broken into bits with a mortar and pestle, worked great)
0 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound savoy cabbage
Salt & pepper
3/4 cup white wine
In a large skillet or Dutch oven heat the pancetta or bacon on MEDIUM. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary as they're prepped. "Sweat" the onions, cooking at a low temperature but not allowing to brown, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, adjusting temperature to make sure not to brown. Depending on the fattiness of the pancetta or bacon, you may need to add 1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Meanwhile, prep the savoy cabbage. (To prep, remove the leaves from the core and wash well. Cut the thick stem out and discard. Pile up three or four leaves and then fold over to create a pile six or eight layers thick. Cut thin slices, cross-wise. The cabbage will keep its structure so make sure that the pieces end up bite-size.) Add the cabbage and stir well to coat with other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and bring to a boil, cover and let cook at a slow simmer for an hour. Taste and adjust seasonings.
TO MAKE AHEAD
ONE OR TWO DAYS BEFORE Cook completely, cool and refrigerate.
DAY OF Before serving, rewarm gently on the stove.
If you multiply the recipe for more servings, make sure to have enough surface area in your cooking vessel, especially if you're counting on a one-hour cooking time. This started off about three inches thick (and didn't cook down much) and cooked perfectly in one hour.
The cabbage soaked up the wine as soon as was added, making me wonder if more wine would be needed. None was, the 3/4 cup was the perfect amount.
Alcohol never really cooks off entirely, even over a long time (sorry, can't find my reference to cite, I'm remembering it was Cook's Illustrated) so care should be taken with children and those who don't drink.
Note to Vegetarians
~ Swedish Red Cabbage ~
~ Cape Breton Cabbage ~
~ Caraway Cabbage ~
~ more cabbage recipes ~
2006 collection of
~ Thanksgiving vegetable recipes ~