It looks like DonQui Oaty – the great carnivore and scourge of vegetarians everywhere – is going a bit soft on cabbage.
Well not soft really.
If DonQui has a problem with vegetables it stems from 1960s English cooking and school dinners. Back then an alarming degree of softness was always obtained by boiling everything for a good 20 minutes or more. If DonQui is going to enjoy something that has sprung out of the ground rather than having run around on it, then it needs to still retain a good deal of crunch.
So soft vegetables will not do… mashed are even worse… but something keeping its crisp freshness… then DonQui can begin to consider it as fine food rather than compost.
So first it was sauerkraut and now this – a rather perky looking small pointy-headed cabbage which DonQui found in his local farm shop. The helpful lady said it was a Hispi Cabbage and told him that it was utterly delicious.
“How do you cook it?” DonQui enquires.
Helpful lady replies, rather unhelpfully, that she steams it.
DonQui cannot help but think that there must be more interesting ways to deal with the pretty little cabbage, so he takes it home with him and scours the internet.
A recipe from Chef Adam Gray seems more like it. A quick 3 minute parboil followed by a stir-fry in butter and shallots seems much more interesting than a simple steaming. DonQui tries it out as an accompaniment to roast chicken and it works wonderfully. Duchess loves it but DonQui thinks it is still a bit too soft for his liking so he vows to try it again without the parboiling.
This is what he does:
He finely slices a shallot, chops up some smoked speck (you can substitute lardons or dry smoked streaky bacon) and crushes a few juniper berries with the blade of his knife.
Then, after removing the outer leaves, he cuts the cabbage into fine strips by slicing across with a knife. The leaves of the Hispi cabbage are tightly packed, making it ideal for this sort of treatment.
He stir-fries the speck and shallots in butter until they begin to colour.
Then he adds the cabbage and juniper berries along with a few twists of black pepper from his pepper grinder. There is no need to add salt thanks to the saltiness of the speck.
He cooks it all together until it starts to glisten and begin to go soft. DonQui tastes to check doneness. When it looses its raw taste but still retains a good bit of crunch it is ready. This probably takes about 4-5 minutes.
He serves it with a couple of bratwürst, mustard for those who like it (DonQui does not) and fresh sourdough bread.
Quick and dead simple to make – and rather yummy too, DonQui thinks.