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Tender is the cabbage

I love the holidays as much as the next guy, but truth be told, I also love that they only come once a year. So much flitting around, feasting, and fun can leave a girl a little fatigued, both of spirit and of palate. Maybe I’m getting old, or Grinchly, or maybe just wise, but after Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, this Saturday eve all I wanted was a quiet apartment, a hot oven, and a homely head of cabbage.

Even more than the holidays, I love the limbo period that follows them, the calm after the proverbial storm, the moment of hesitation—of taking stock, of gathering my bearings—after stepping over the threshold of a new year. I find myself in the kitchen again, with a few open cookbooks and open space in the oven, now that the cookies, turkeys, and tarts are tucked away. And my hunger runs to the humble and the honest, the dependable stuff, the slow and steady. All of which means, dear reader, that the calendar spells cabbage.

He may be a small, portly fellow, green at the cheeks and balding, but last night I happily holed up with a head of green cabbage, and we braised. I’ve never been much for nightlife, anyway, and the love of a good crucifer will make a homebody out of anybody—or this body, at least. Nestled with onions and carrots under a light blanket of oil and broth, tender was the night, and the cabbage. With gentle attention and two hours in the oven, each wedge went musky and melting, easy under the knife. There is no denying that cabbage is sulfurous stuff, but cooked this way—slowly, and sealed under foil—its aroma softens from raw and bitter to sweet and nutty, skipping straight over sour. Earthy, soothing, and seasoned with flaky Maldon salt, it makes a soft bed for a poached egg,

and a soft landing into a new year.

Braised Green Cabbage with Onions, Carrots, and a Poached Egg
Adapted from All About Braising, by Molly Stevens

I’ve long been a fan of braising red cabbage—on the stovetop, usually, with caraway seeds, honey, and apples—but braised green cabbage may be my new regular. It couldn’t be simpler—provided, of course, that you have two hours to spare—and its soft, subdued flavor makes it an easy pairing for many foods, from corned beef to sausage, roasted chicken, or, as I’ve shown here, a plain old poached egg. And perhaps best of all, it keeps beautifully in the fridge and, as with many braises, actually improves with rest. I like to cook it during the weekend and eat it over the busy days that follow, warmed in the microwave or a low oven.

1 medium head green cabbage, about 2 pounds
1 large yellow onion, sliced into rough 1/3-inch slices
1 large carrot, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
¼ cup good-quality chicken stock, or water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 egg, poached according to the directions here
Maldon salt, or fleur de sel, to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

Peel off and discard from the cabbage any bruised or messy outer leaves. Give the cabbage a quick rinse under cool water, and dry it lightly. Cut it into 8 wedges, and trim away some of the woody core, leaving enough to hold each wedge intact. Arrange the wedges in a 9 x 13 baking dish. They may overlap a little, but you want them to lie in a single—if crowded—layer. If they don’t fit nicely into the dish, remove one wedge and set it aside for later use in a quick sauté, salad, or soup.

Scatter the onion and carrot over the cabbage, and pour the stock and oil over the whole mess. Season with a couple pinches of coarse salt, a couple grinds of the pepper mill, and the red pepper flakes. Cover the dish tightly with foil, and slide it into the oven. Cook the vegetables for 1 hour; then remove the dish from the oven and gently turn the cabbage wedges. If the dish seems at all dry, add a couple tablespoons of water. Cover the dish, and return it to the oven to cook until the vegetables are very tender, about an hour more.

When the cabbage is completely tender, remove the foil over the baking dish, turn the oven up to 400 degrees, and continue cooking until the vegetables begin to brown lightly on their edges, another 15 or so minutes.

Serve warm, topped with a poached egg and sprinkled with plenty of good, flaky Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Note: The cabbage keeps well in the fridge for a few days, sealed in an airtight container.

Yield: 1 serving, plus leftovers for another half-dozen meals


Anonymous tami said...

i am in the same post holiday food phase you are. i find myself reaching for simple, clean flavors. lots of veggies. comfort food. for the love of god - not one more baked good.

great post. thank you for posting the recipe.

7:31 PM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger Derrick said...

Ack! You'll never guess the theme of this week's SFist in the Kitchen. Curse all these seasonal cooks :)

7:46 PM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Julie said...

Molly, this sounds like an absolute tonic for both the tastebuds and the spirit. Thanks as always for your lovely writing and your great food sensibility!

7:49 PM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Molly, this looks just the thing! I'm also in that post-holiday stock-taking quiet space, with very big transitions on the horizon to boot. As such I need nothing but this sort of food to guide me along, keep me chilled out and breathing deeply. I'll try to report back and let you know how the cabbage soothes :)


7:59 PM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger Ruth said...

Molly I love visiting your site. It's usually so in keeping with my state and this time is no different. Gone is the fancy, over the top, festive fare. Now is the time for nurturing the soul and body with simple comforts.

Thanks for sharing

6:22 AM, January 09, 2006  
Anonymous tanya said...

Molly this was SUCH a beautiful post. Thankyou.

7:18 AM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger foodiechickie said...

I adore cabbage! Slaw! Pork with wilted cabbage, sausage with cabbage, cabbage stuffed with various spicy meats simmered in tomatoe sauce! MMMMM!!!

And not much of a partier myself unless its in the kitchen ofcourse.

8:32 AM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger kickpleat said...

oh, you've melted my heart with your cabbage post! i love the stuff and i hope that my cabbage will stay somewhat fresh until i return from my week-long vacation. my fingers are crossed!

10:19 AM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Dawna said...

That's funny - I just gave a couple of heads of fennel (and a whole head of garlic) the almost-identical treatment!

2:22 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Zarah Maria said...

Molly - with the fear of repeating myself: I LOVE your writing! I know no one that would think of describing a humble head of cabbage as "a small, portly fellow, green at the cheeks and balding" - fantastic!

3:42 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Shauna said...

Fabulous, my dear. I agree, of course. Last night, I braised an entire bunch of organic kale with pumpkin seed oil, rosemary sea salt, and a little homemade chicken broth. That was enough for me for dinner.
So glad you enjoyed yourself.

5:02 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger nosheteria said...

I'm with you about the holidays. They are the perfect example of too much of a good thing. Cabbage sounds like the perfect remedy.

6:25 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Kate Hill said...

Cabbage must be the ultimate 'down to earth' antidote for our high-flying feasts. Your simple braise paired with the other perfect food-an egg, is inspiring. I just posted my own ham-scented Gascon cabbage dish- 'tis the season!

4:06 AM, January 10, 2006  
Blogger Chubby Hubby said...

Molly, great post. I love all of Molly Stevens' recipes and I really love cabbage when it's cooked properly. This sounds wonderful.

6:18 AM, January 10, 2006  
Anonymous Melissa said...

I have heard so many good things about Molly Stevens' book by now, something tells me I'm going to have to break down and buy it soon! Not like I need any arm-twisting, mind you. Molly, I wish I could hire you to fly over to Scotland and coddle me with your slow-cooked wonders... I could certainly sit down to a good few hours of thesis writing if I knew I had your cabbage to look forward to!

3:41 PM, January 10, 2006  
Anonymous Ivonne said...

I have Molly's book and I'm ashamed to say I have yet to crack it open.

You have convinced me!

8:30 PM, January 10, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Oh, it does my heart good to see so many cabbage-lovers in one place!

Tami, amen to all that - except, well, the baked goods. I have to admit that I never get tired of those! In fact, I whipped up some pretty heavenly (and blessedly simple) little almond cakes a few days ago, which will make their way to Orangette very soon. Shield your eyes! Quick!

Derrick, so sorry! What can I say? The season told me to. And you know I had to obey.

Julie, thank you, my dear.

Lisa, I hope this cabbage did its job! If nothing else, the warm, earthy aroma rising from the baking dish should encourage you to breathe deeply. Cheers to 2006, my friend.

My sentiments exactly, Ruth. It looks as though you've been busy cooking up simple, comforting - and no doubt delicious - dishes yourself!

Aw, Tanya, thank you.

Foodiechickie, once again, we are of the same mind when it comes to the kitchen! Excellent taste, if I do say so myself.

Kickpleat, I find that cabbage keeps quite well, so long as it's wrapped airtight and stashed in the crisper drawer. Once it's braised, though, it tends to disappear more quickly! Safe and happy travels, m'dear.

Dawna, that's a very good idea. Hmmm, I do have two fennel bulbs in the fridge right now...

Thank you, Zarah! Funny - that "portly, balding" idea came to me in the shower on Sunday morning. Maybe that's my new site of inspiration, not the kitchen?

Shauna, I'll take your kale for dinner any night of the week. How do you think it would be with a poached egg on top?

Nosheteria, I've been dutifully swallowing this "remedy" for the past few days - ahh, leftovers! - and it's working quite well. I'm almost ready to have another go at too much of a good thing, if you'd believe it...

Kate, I love the idea of your stuffed cabbage "poule"-au-pot! Wow. And wow.

Thank you, Chubby Hubby. I can't wait to try more of Molly's recipes. My copy of her book looks pretty comical right now, actually - stuffed to the gills with Post-It bookmarks! Are there any particular recipes you'd especially recommend, for the sake of triage?

Melissa, I'll tell you what: I'll come over and cook for you while you finish your dissertation, and then you can repay me by making a few of your favorites. I can't wait. Now, who's buying the plane ticket?

Ivonne, I'm glad to hear it. Turn on that oven, pick a recipe, and go!

9:02 PM, January 10, 2006  
Anonymous Tongue in Cheek said...

If that is a homely cabbage, I'd eat my dirty socks!
The photo and your post is picture perfect!

1:44 AM, January 11, 2006  
Blogger foodiechickie said...

Thanks Molly! I forgot to add Kimchi to the list though.

7:23 AM, January 11, 2006  
Anonymous livsmama said...

Molly, thanks so much! I found you through the USA Weekend article on food blogs. And I had the cabbage and egg for lunch. Delicious!

10:56 AM, January 11, 2006  
Blogger WebSorceress said...

I love cabbage and these pictures are beautiful. Thanks for giving us another way to cook a great veggie.

4:09 PM, January 11, 2006  
Blogger dave said...

I like anyone who looks fondly on balding objects. And, I love cabbage. Nice post.

10:33 AM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger foodiechickie said...

Ok sorry last comment in this post I just wanted to congratulate you for being mentioned in USA Weekend! Super!

12:19 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Tongue in Cheek, thank you! You know, I agree: braised cabbage is more comely than homely, although a whole, raw head is nothing much to look at. You can keep those dirty socks where they belong - in the laundry!

Excellent thinking, foodiechickie, and good save! Yes, kimchi! Absolutely. And thank you, too, for the USA Weekend congrats! It's my first real press mention, and five days after the fact, I'm still feeling good and giddy.

Welcome, livsmama, and thank you for making the trip over from USA Weekend! So glad to hear that the cabbage was a hit.

You're very welcome, theWebSorceressCooks! It's my pleasure. Really, all thanks should go to Molly Stevens, but I'll gladly except them in her stead...

And Dave, thank you. It's good to see you around here!

3:02 PM, January 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made this for supper last night. It was, of course, delicious. So simple to make, yet something new, the combination of eggs and cabbage. Why does 'peasant' food taste so good when it is so cold?

8:10 AM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous sparkstar said...

I have spent the past few HOURS exploring your blog...it is so riveting, so compelling! Your mindful approach to the food you explore and the fluid writing that encompasses it has me hooked. I serendipitously tripped upon your blog and I am now another devoted reader. The braised cabbage recipe is DIVINE. I so enjoyed the intoxicating scent tickling my nose as i waited (and waited) with bated breath to have it melt so deliciously and langorously (as no other vegetable has before) on my tongue. THANK YOU!
Oh, and i added more chilli....quite a bit extra. I found the heat wrapped me in an iron-clad embrace, more more more!!

9:32 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger Adam said...

Awesome! I've made this two ways now: according to your recipe, and with the addition of copious amounts of Inner Beauty Sauce (see: http://cooking.netrelief.com/recipes/home_style_inner_beauty_hot_sauce_recipe.shtml ). This is a great base cabbage recipe, and one that you can really riff on. Thanks!

5:23 PM, December 30, 2007  
Blogger Lady Amalthea said...

I made this in my slow cooker (the inaugural recipe!) and it was wonderful! The sweetest green cabbage I've ever had. Perfect for just before the holidays as well.

11:55 AM, November 17, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your blog on recommendation from my cooking forum friends. I love it. So far I have twice braised cabbage following your advice and recipes. The first time I did it on top of the stove with the apple caraway recipe. Tonight I made this version. So delicious with the poached eggs! Totally new flavor combo for me. I am finally using my braising pan for its intended purpose. Thanks for the inspiration!

8:54 PM, March 01, 2009  
Blogger Megancake said...

This has become one of my staple recipes, its so easy and I can throw it in the oven and forget about it. It's always delicious and healthy! Thank you!

6:07 PM, September 10, 2009  
Blogger emily said...

I know this is an older recipe, but lordy this recipe bowled me over. Absolutely and completely. One of the most delicious things I've eaten in ages! I fixed it with some local NY sausages, which were great but really, the cabbage stole the spotlight!

7:54 PM, December 07, 2009  
Anonymous ann said...

i want to take a nap, snuggling with this cabbage.

5:33 PM, December 11, 2009  
Anonymous saveur said...

This is sinfully delicious. Tahnks for sharing! I wrote about it on my blog here:

3:59 AM, May 14, 2010  
Blogger Arthi said...

this recipe was amazing! i got a head of cabbage in my CSA box, didn't know what to do with it, then stumbled upon this site. it was simple and delicious! have since definitely bought cabbage ;)

11:50 AM, August 21, 2010  
Blogger jmk said...

I just tried this recipe today (minus the egg) and it's fabulous! I can see this appearing on our menu a lot from now on. Thank you!

12:22 PM, October 23, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Making this for the 3rd time tonight, it is fabulous, and a great way to use up a cabbage that would otherwise sit around unloved. Now I look forward to getting cabbages in our organic farm delivery!

7:30 PM, November 02, 2010  
Blogger Shannon said...

absolutely amazing!!!! blew me away :) will be posting a review soon!

5:15 PM, December 09, 2010  
Anonymous Comet said...

I know I'm five years after the fact but I love this recipe. I also recommend adding some chicken sausage, a braeburn apple and some red wine (1/4 cup) to the mix. We jumped to 400 degrees at the 1.75hr mark for 30 min without regret. (I know that's oven dependent.) Thanks MW for the platform upon which to launch.

5:31 PM, February 06, 2011  
Anonymous Erin said...

This recipe was the best! I always avoid the green cabbage in my CSA box, but this time it was a hit! Thanks!

5:45 PM, March 02, 2011  
Anonymous Michelle M. Jones said...

I had 2 heads of cabbage from my CSA box & I've been avoiding them. Cole slaw was all I could think about. A LOT of cole slaw. Made this last night--didn't have carrots but used cauliflower instead. I found myself digging into it at midnight & it was AWESOME. Just woke up thinking how excited I am to eat some for breakfast with the egg!

7:46 AM, August 02, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lovely dish. my wife requests it now and again.

7:37 PM, January 07, 2012  
Blogger MonstorB said...

I just made this last night for the first time. It is heavenly. Thank you so much for sharing!

11:08 AM, May 10, 2012  
Blogger Kyle Eichner said...

After a few days sick and only eating chicken soup, this tasted divine when it was done. And perfect, since cabbage, carrots and onions are pretty much the only vegetables available here in January in the former USSR (other than potatoes). It was wonderful to have a new combination of those flavors.

6:23 AM, January 20, 2013  
Blogger MonstorB said...

I just had to tell you how much I enjoy this dish. Thank you so much for blog.

2:20 PM, May 08, 2013  
Anonymous Genie said...

Though it's not the season for this sort of dish, I had half a head of cabbage leftover from something else this week, and this felt like the perfect, comforting way to make it. Thanks so much for the recipe!

2:54 PM, May 12, 2013  
Blogger HadleyEG said...

Whoa! It has been many years since you posted this recipe, but it is still making waves, Molly. I just ate my portion...and am having trouble not eating the other 5 all by myself. YUM. I hoped it would be worth the two hours...it was. If you are still checking posts, do you have any suggestions for leftover, besides just reheating and eating the exact same way, which couldn't be bad?

7:35 PM, October 29, 2013  
Anonymous Denise said...

I found this recipe about 3 years ago. Cooked it, again and again and again and now, tonight. Occasionally I add potatoes & serve with some type of grilled meat. It is a never-fail delicious dish. Thank you and I do so enjoy your blog. Wonderful writing.

5:29 PM, December 09, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delicious and silky, as promised. Thank you for that! Absolutely lovely with my roasted chicken.

6:32 PM, December 15, 2013  

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