When my friend mentioned to me that she tried Adeena Susman’s melted cabbage recipe in her book Sababa I was intrigued. It sounded so inviting. I mean I love cabbage—coleslaw, fish tacos with shredded cabbage and salsa, braised cabbage with apples and cream, cabbage borscht and vegetable cabbage soup—to name just a few dishes. But melted? Yes! It is scrumptious. In Israel there are many versions of this traditional dish. In Ms. Susman’s version, she chooses to sear the cabbage wedges first which adds extra flavor and caramelization. She thenglazes the pan with wine and stock and slowly cooks them for 2 to 2 ½ hours. You can cook it for even longer for a softer version but make sure that the bottom of the pan has some liquid in it. It’s not a bad idea to check after the first hour of cooking.
When I tested this recipe, I only had a large cabbage, so I used a large Dutch oven to get the four wedges in the pan. If you want the cabbage pieces to hold their shape cook for about 2 hours; if you prefer softer, browner pieces you can finish cooking for another ½ to 1 hour. I like to serve this in shallow serving bowls with the juice spooned over, drizzled with olive oil and a big dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream. The recipe calls for adding butter, but I didn’t use it and it was really flavorful. On another testing round I used all chicken stock and no wine and substituted fresh dill weed sprigs for the thyme. It was a big hit. I have served this as a first course and also as a main course with crusty French baguette slices. A glass of crisp, dry white wine is a good pairing with the flavors of the cabbage.
Melted Green Cabbage
Serves 4 for First Course, 2 as Main Course.
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
2 small heads of green cabbage (2 pounds), quartered (but not cored)
10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
4 shallots, peeled and halved
½ cup dry, acidic white wine, such as Albariño or Grüner Veltliner
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth, plus more if necessary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces or olive oil
¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. In a heavy, large, high-sided skillet or shallow Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium- high heat. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper directly onto the oil, then arrange the cabbage wedges in the pot, making sure that each is lying on a flat side (you can cram them in; they’ll relax into one another as they release liquid).
3. Let the undersides get nice and brown, resisting the urge to move them too much but checking once to make sure they’re not burning (reduce the heat slightly if they are), 6 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, flip the cabbage wedges, then tuck the garlic cloves and shallots into the pot, and brown the undersides of the cabbage, another 6 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper along with the thyme.
4. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, transfer to the oven, and cook until soft, slumped, and mahogany brown, 2 hours, or 2½ hours for even softer cabbage. Uncover, cool slightly, and serve the cabbage with the liquid accumulated in the pot. Season with salt and pepper and top with butter or olive oil and crème fraîche. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
From SABABA by ADEENA SUSSMAN, published by AVERY, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2019 by ADEENA SUSSMAN
By: Diane Worthington