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Cabbage... it's what's for dinner...
Right Food for the Season - Late Winter
Written by R. Patrick Kent   

In January, with a foot of snow on the ground and the temperature touching single-digits, the tomatoes and corn of summer are a half-remembered dream. One might make the mistake of thinking that there isn't much that's local in New England at this time of year. However, there are still treasures to be found in the hearty winter greens that fight through the cold and/or the root vegetables that store for months at cool temperatures. One of my favorites is cabbage. Cabbage is cheap, plentiful, stores forever, and delivers wonderful crunch, delicate sweetness, and a faint sulpherous earthiness.

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Cultures around the world have subsisted on cabbage through the winter months. It is delicious pickled and, since it stores well, can be prepared fresh even in the dead of winter.  Most everyone is familiar with cabbage preparations from all corners of the earth; sauerkraut in Germany, boiled dinners from Ireland, and kimchi in Korea are just a few examples.

I keep several heads of cabbage in the vegetable drawer through the winter months, both red and green. It makes for a hearty side or can just as easily hold center-stage on the plate. I touched on a sweet and sour preparation for red cabbage in my "Christmas Story" collection. Here is a green cabbage preparation I put together one recent wintry night to accompany some coarse bratwurst from Karl's Sausage Kitchen in Saugus, MA.

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

2 - 4 slices of thick cut bacon
Small or medium sized cabbage (size of a grapefruit or a cantaloupe)
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp grainy mustard
Salt & Pepper

Method 

Take the core out of the cabbage, quarter it and thinly slice. In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and leave 2 - 3 tbsp of bacon fat in the pan. Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the cabbage. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes, until the cabbage begins to wilt. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and cider vinegar to the pan. Scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for about 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced to a light sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in mustard. Toss with crumbled bacon and serve.

 

 

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