Thursday, July 23, 2009

Consider the cabbage

Ambrose Bierce, in his Devil's Dictionary, defined a cabbage as "a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head." It's actually a bit smarter than that.

When I was growing up (and this isn't the first time I've stated that in a post like this, I must be getting old), cabbage was used for two things in our household: coleslaw, and cabbage rolls. I wasn't actually fond of the latter at the time, and now I can't eat them anyway, as my mother's secret recipe has rice in it. So for years my primary source of cabbage-y goodness was coleslaw.

But I'm older now, and I've discovered other uses for this green globe. Furthermore, it turns out it's good for me, too. Dietarily, it's high in vitamin C, glutamine, riboflavin, and fibre, and low in simple carbohydrates. Raw, it has a somewhat pungent taste, but cooking tends to soften that. Here's a couple of different ways to prepare cabbage:

1. Saute it. Just slice it into thin sections (1/4 to 1/2 inch) vertically (discarding the stem), break the sections into strands, and saute in oil (coconut, palm, or similar - maybe even try bacon fat?) until softened and "translucent" all over, and browned in spots.

2. Boil-and-bake it. Quarter the cabbage, leaving the stem on, toss it into a pot of boiling water with a whole star anise pod, and boil for 8 minutes. Once it's looking a bit soggy, brush some melted butter onto it, place it into a buttered baking dish, and bake at high heat (450 or so) until it's starting to brown and crisp. (You'll want to keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn.)

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