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Cabbage Braised with Riesling and Bacon

(recipe, Kim Carlson)


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Introduction

Cabbage is a good vegetable to braise. Slow cooking tones down its pungent, peppery qualities and its tough leaves are softened. Cabbage readily takes on the aromas of the elements with which it is cooked — in this case, aromatic vegetables, Riesling, and smoked bacon. Cabbage also carries the flavors of meat juices and the smooth richness of certain animal fats, giving this dish a wintry feel. If you have rendered duck or goose fat, substitute it for the olive oil in this recipe, or if you serve this cabbage with roast fowl, lamb, or pork (for which it has a great affinity), season the cabbage with some of the juices released from the meats after they have rested. This dish can be made with either red or Dutch winter white cabbage or Savoy cabbage, the lighter, loose-growing head with crinkled leaves.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cabbage (1 pound)
  2. 2 Tbsp. pure olive oil
  3. 1 small carrot (3 ounces), peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
  4. ½ large stalk of celery (2 ounces), cut into ¼-inch dice
  5. 1 small yellow onion (5 ounces), peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
  6. 4 oz. smoked bacon, sliced ¼ inch thick, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  7. 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  8. ¾ cup slightly sweet Riesling or Gewürztraminer wine
  9. 2 tsp. salt
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  11. 1 Tbsp. white-wine vinegar or cider vinegar

Steps

  1. Slice the cabbage in half, remove the core, and cut the cabbage into rough chunks about 1 inch wide.
  2. Warm the olive oil in a 6-quart noncorroding casserole. Add the vegetables, bacon, thyme, and wine, and bring to a simmer. Put half the cabbage in the pot and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the salt and a little freshly ground pepper over the layer. Repeat with the remaining cabbage.
  3. Cover the pot tightly and braise the cabbage slowly over low heat. After 20 minutes, stir the cabbage gently so that the leaves on top move to the bottom and the vegetables and bacon are mixed throughout. Replace the cover and cook another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.
  4. Taste the cabbage and correct for salt and pepper if necessary. Add the vinegar and toss well.
  5. The cabbage can be made several hours in advance, or while a roast is cooking, and warmed just before serving.