Caramelized cabbage is mellow and sweet

Entertaining: The vegetable is sliced, sauteed in butter and baked until it's fork-tender and deeply browned.

February 14, 1999|By BETTY ROSBOTTOM | BETTY ROSBOTTOM,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Last month, my family had a delicious meal in a small Boston restaurant called the Franklin Cafe. My son and his girlfriend both love this dining spot and recommended it.

Every dish we ordered, including spicy pork tenderloins served with mashed potatoes, trout fillets with bread-and-roasted-tomato stuffing, and racks of veal with caramelized country cabbage, was robust and bursting with flavor.

Of all the food we sampled that night, however, the cabbage was my favorite.

When I asked chefs David Dubois and Dan Ryan how the vegetable was prepared, I was amazed to discover that the recipe has only two main ingredients -- cabbage and butter.

However, the slow oven-roasting causes the cabbage to caramelize and take on a sweet, mellow taste so that when finished, it is fork-tender and has a deep, rich flavor.

For a recent dinner, I prepared Caramelized Country Cabbage and served it with grilled turkey kielbasa sausages and buttermilk mashed potatoes -- a hearty, easy meal.

I like the simplicity of this type of meal and am pleased that my grocery list will be so short when shopping for the ingredients.

Caramelized Country Cabbage

Serves 4

1 (3- to 3 1/4 -pound) head of cabbage, preferably with several attractive outer leaves

1/4 cup unsalted butter

kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 pound reduced-fat turkey kielbasa sausages, optional

oil

Remove attractive outer leaves of cabbage and set aside for garnish. Quarter cabbage. Cut out and discard tough cores. Cut each quarter, crosswise, into 1-inch-wide strips.

Melt butter in large, heavy, deep-sided, oven-proof pot over high heat. When hot, add half the cabbage strips and stir constantly with wooden spoon until slightly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining cabbage and cook, stirring constantly, until all cabbage is wilted and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds black pepper.

Place pot in oven on middle rack and bake, uncovered, at 300 degrees until cabbage takes on rich brown color and is fork tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Stir cabbage every 15 minutes while in oven. When done, remove and taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. (Cabbage can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over low heat until hot. Refrigerate outer cabbage leaves separately in large, tightly sealed plastic bag.)

When ready to serve, if using kielbasa, cut sausages on the diagonal into 3-inch lengths. Using stove-top grill pan brushed with oil or large, heavy skillet with thin film of oil on bottom, place over medium-high heat and when hot, add sausages and grill or saute until hot and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

To serve, arrange reserved cabbage leaves as border on serving platter. Mound cabbage in center and surround with sausages.

Pub Date: 02/14/99

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