Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Beginning.

It starts here.

And then we do a little of this.

And then we put in a lot of this.

And then we let it sit for hours, on the lowest of low heat.  We go from this: this... this... about a quart of beautiful, pale, not-quite-but-almost meltingly tender cabbage, of which I failed to take a picture.  The next day (if you are like me, and don't quite have time on a Monday night to make this all happen at once), put your cabbage in a pot with stock, and bring to a boil.  Add a can or two of beans, a couple tablespoons of butter, a good handful of parmesan, generous amounts of salt and pepper, and let it all heat and mingle.  When everything is thoroughly bubbly and warm and you're so, so hungry that you can't wait to take a picture (and really, that steam obscures everything), serve in a warmed bowl with more parmesan.  It's rich and filling without making you feel heavy, and sends rivers of warmth to the tips of your toes.

I almost don't want to write anything more: the recipe is beautiful and perfect in its simplicity.  Plus, you have cabbage to start chopping.

Smothered Cabbage Stew:
Adapted from Orangette

Smothered Cabbage:
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium head of Savoy cabbage (about 2 lbs.)
freshly ground pepper
1 Tbl white wine vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed soup-pot or Dutch oven (my preference) over medium heat.  Add the onion, and cook, stirring every once in a while, until the onions are golden (five minutes, perhaps).  Add the garlic, and cook, stirring off and on, until the garlic smells fragrant (a few more minutes).

In the meantime, quarter the cabbage, core it, and slice it into long, thin slivers, making sure to break up any large pieces that may have escaped your knife (or do this before you start).  When the garlic is finished, add the cabbage to the pot, and stir to coat the cabbage in the oil.  (I sent little pieces of cabbage flying frequently, so really, use a big pot.)  Continue to cook and stir until the cabbage is fairly wilted, then add a good amount of salt and pepper, and the vinegar.  Stir to combine, then cover, and let sit for 1.5-2 hours on the lowest possible setting.  Stir the cabbage occasionally, and add a tablespoon or two of water if it looks too dry.  When the cabbage is done, you can proceed to the next recipe, or freeze it for another day.

1 recipe of smothered cabbage
3 cups of vegetable stock
28-oz cooked beans (I used garbanzos and great Northern beans)
2 Tbl butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper
more parmesan to serve

About as easy as it gets.  Add the cabbage to a large pot and pour the vegetable stock over it.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Add the beans, and stir to distribute.  Add the parmesan and the butter, and turn the heat to medium-high until the soup starts bubbling again.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and serve with more parmesan.

Bliss. that your tummies are full, and small smiles of contentment linger on your faces, I thought to have a long, thoughtful, after-dinner chat.  But I find that the writing has settled my stormy thoughts, the soup came back in spirit to tell me that everything's all right.  Or even if it's not, I've got soup in my bowl, and that's a pretty good start.

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