Cabbage stew does not usually evoke romantic visions of great food. Comforting? Cheap? Nourishing? Yes to all three, but it also sounds suspiciously like something that your grandmother would have made for you—the dish she ate while growing up during the Great Depression, when she was grateful to have the slightest shred of cabbage on her plate, when she had to walk seven miles to school in the sleeting snow over muddy tracks. This was the dish she was damn grateful to have—and you'd better appreciate your cabbage stew, too!
In this case, however, you'd be unfortunately mistaken—because this recipe draws its origin from French cooking. Traditional French cooking has a love affair with cabbage; in fact, a term of endearment in French is petit chou, literally meaning little cabbage, which is a term that is commonly used to mean sweetheart.
This stew is no bland and uninspired recipe of cabbage with a bit of salt and pepper. No, grander and richer fare must be the order of the day, and the result here is that cabbage finds holy matrimony with a whole host of other ingredients, including potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic—but above all else butter, bacon, and cream. This recipe is certainly not vegetarian, and it is certainly not light, but while your waist might decry it, your taste buds will delight.
For a delicious stew on a cold winter night, I am sure that there is no better recipe. The rich bacon mingles with the sweet cabbage, and the elixir of cream binds the honesty of potatoes with the freshness of carrots.
I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, La cuisine française: la + simple du monde.
- 1 head of cabbage
- 3 carrots, peeled and roughly sliced
- 1 onion
- 1/2 package bacon, (around half a pound)
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 stick butter
- 3 potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- In a large casserole dish, fry the bacon over high heat for 3 minutes. Add in the onions, butter, and the garlic once the bacon has rendered its fat and has started to solidify. Fry the onions for 5 minutes, and then add the potatoes.
- Add in the carrots, and then the cabbage, which is cut up into small fragments. Mix together evenly by stirring.
- Proceed to cook for 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Then add in the cream, and cook for 20 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, and then serve.
© 2019 Ryan Thomas