Sautéeing the cabbage ahead, even a day ahead, works well, but finish it with the butter and mustard just before serving.
Cabbage is not a sexy vegetable, but this treatment gives it hope. The piquant and the voluptuous—grainy mustard and a little sweet butter—glaze the cabbage just before it goes into the bowl—an inspiration from New York chef Tom Valenti. Our contribution is what the cabbage takes on beforehand by braising it with thyme, apple, vinegar, and broth.
Serve it as a side to anything autumnal, but if partnered with roasted potatoes and a fresh salad, it would make meal all on its own.
- Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 head red cabbage (2-1/2 pounds), cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Six 6-inch branches fresh thyme, or 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium apple, cored (not peeled) and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 6 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 to 4 heaping tablespoons grainy dark mustard
1. Film a straight-sided 12-inch sauté pan with olive oil. Heat over medium high; add the onion, cabbage, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring with a wooden spatula, to brown the onions and get the cabbage to pick up golden edges. Adjust the heat so the pan glaze doesn’t burn.
2. Stir in the thyme, bay, apple, and half the vinegar, scraping up any glaze on the pan’s bottom. Boil the vinegar down to nothing.
3. Pour in the wine and broth, bring to a slow bubble, cover, and cook until the cabbage is nearly tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and boil away the liquid, stirring in the remaining vinegar toward the end of the boil so it moistens the cabbage.
4. Just before serving, taste the cabbage for seasoning. Fold in the butter and mustard and serve hots.
Replace the cabbage with other vegetables or a combination of them. Try green beans, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, turnips, burdock, rutabaga, celery root, kohlrabi, kale, collards, mustard greens or potatoes. Vary the cooking time as needed.