Gently cooking chopped cabbage in a bit of butter and salt creates a meltingly tender, richly flavored side dish perfect to serve with roast meats of all kinds. Plus, it couldn't be easier. It's one of those the-sum-is-greater-than-it's-parts dishes, for sure. The loose, gently curly leaves of Savoy cabbage are particularly perfect for this dish, but regular green cabbage works just as well.
This side dish is fabulously flexible. It goes with a huge range of main dishes: roast chicken, grilled steak, broiled fish, rice and beans... the list is almost endless.
- 1 small head Savoy or green cabbage
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Fine sea salt to taste
- Remove and discard any beat-up, wilted, or browning leaves from the exterior of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters, cut out the thick core at the center. You can either discard the core or, do as I do, and slice it very thinly and include it in the mix!
- Chop the cabbage into bite-size pieces (bigger or smaller doesn't matter too much, so don't fret over chopping them evenly for this dish unless you want to).
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan or saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and stopped foaming, add the cabbage, sprinkle it with salt, and add 3 tablespoons of water. Stir to combine, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring the cabbage now and again if you feel like it until the cabbage is very tender and liquid is completely absorbed, about 20 minutes. If for some reason the cabbage isn't tender but the pan is dry, and another 2 tablespoons of water and continue cooking, adding a tablespoon of water at a time, if necessary, until the cabbage is tender to the bite.
- Season the cabbage to taste with additional salt, if you like, and serve hot or warm.
This recipe is so basic it's really just a method, which makes it ripe for experimentation and customization. Feel free to add herbs (towards the end), spices (with the butter), or other vegetables (with the cabbage) to make this dish your own. A few ideas to get you started:
- Add extra flavor by using chicken stock or white wine in place of the water as the braising liquid.
- Sprinkle in some fresh herbs like parsley or thyme right at the end. The French mix of herbes de Provence or fines herbes are both good choices.
- Rosemary is lovely, too, just be sure to start by adding very little, since its stronger flavor can easily overwhelm this more delicately flavored dish.
- Grate on a few shavings of hard cheese, like Parmesan or aged Gouda, while the cabbage it still hot, right before serving, so it melts into the cabbage for a surprisingly tasty addition.
- Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite spice mix to the melted butter before adding the cabbage. Ras el hanout, garam masala, and even curry powder to good options.