Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cabbage and Cauliflower with Orange Spice

Often, in my desire to cook in sync with the seasons I overlook obvious vegetables. Such was the case the other day when I discovered a forgotten half head of cabbage in the vegetable drawer earlier this week.

While I happily indulge in the occasional German Braised Red Cabbage, I instinctually relegate green cabbage to cole slaw. Something I really love, but that big green head deserves to relish in its full 15 minutes of fame. Maybe even a half hour or more, as I really love the richness it gets from slow cooking.

I have long been a fan of braising a thick cut shred of cabbage with butter and stock, which I then fold into rough mashed potatoes. An around the corner homage to Colcannon, a classic Irish dish. And I’m on it like clockwork every Saint Paddy’s day with my Corned Beef and Cabbage.

However, a few days ago, my discovery of the forgotten cabbage in the fridge coincided with my inkling to make a chicken curry dish. I dimly remembered dinners past in the curry mall of E. 6th Street here in NYC. Every dish it seemed , arrived with braised cabbage and dhal (yellow split peas). So, no blind monkey here, I recognized the potential for a happy marriage of the cabbage and the curry.

As the curried chicken was big on flavor, I was looking to create a dish that had enough balls to hold it’s own, while adding sufficient mystery to round out the plate. I happily submit the results.

Cabbage and Cauliflower with Orange Spice (serves 2 or 4)

½ cup onion, chopped
¼ head small green cabbage, cut into one inch squares
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper
3 whole cloves
1 ½ cups cauliflower florettes (approximate)
1 teaspoon tangerine zest (or orange)
¼ cup dry vermouth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and when hot add onions and cabbage. Sauté, stirring constantly to avoid browning. Add salt, pepper and whole cloves. If needed, add a tablespoon or two of water to slow cooking. When Cabbage is about halfway cooked, add cauliflower, zest and vermouth. Cover and continue to cook over medium low heat. After 2 minutes toss in the butter, swirl it around and return to heat with cover. Continue to cook until cabbage is soft and cauliflower is cooked, but still has a “bite”. Check seasoning, remove the whole cloves and serve.

And so my niblets, I encourage you to grab a “head” and get busy. Cabbage is just mild enough to be the canvas, yet present enough to tint the paint.

Contented eating and sassy sautéing,
Big Mary