Internet, look at the state of my cabbage patch.
I had no idea, back in June, that I was planting such a tyrannical vegetable. But, since then, my eight little Savoys have grown and grown, dwarfing the peas and throwing shade on the courgettes (although the latter don’t seem to mind the dark too much). Last Sunday, I decided it was finally time to pull up a couple of heads, wash the dirt and beasties off, and see how they tasted. Lo and behold, my cabbages have hearts, and there are now weeds growing in their place.
Now, I am not a fan of watery boiled cabbage. I’d happily eat it raw, or flash-in-the-pan-fried. My favourite cabbage dish, though, inspired by the foodie uncle, involves a pancetta-y twist and some flavourful chicken stock. I’ve eaten piles of it by itself, but it’s a tasty addition to Sunday lunch, too – especially lemon, garlic and herb roast chicken and crisp-edged roasted spuds.
Moreish bacon and cabbage
Ingredients for two gluttonous or four side-dish portions:
1 Savoy cabbage
150ml best chicken stock
a knob of butter
around 10 slices / 100g of pancetta (buy Irish if you can – TJ Crowe and Sir Jack know their stuff! Streaky bacon works, too)
a handful of toasted pine nuts
salt & pepper to taste
What to do:
Rinse the cabbage leaves in some icy cold water, and chop roughly. Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large pot and add the cabbage. Cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the cabbage is soft but not falling apart. Keep an eye on the pot and add a spoonful or two of water if needed.
While the cabbage is cooking, chop the onion finely and fry in the butter until golden. Lift the onion out with a slotted spoon, add the pancetta and fry in the buttery oniony juices until crisp. Toss the pine nuts through for a couple of seconds at the very end, then remove the pan from the heat.
Once the cabbage has cooked through, drain off any remaining liquid. Return the cabbage to the pot and stir the pancetta, onion and pine nuts through. Season to taste, and serve immediately.