One of the accompaniments to my Deep Pit Barbecued Turkey this year will be this simple, satisfying dish. It’s quick to make and only takes up one cooking surface — which is of great importance on Thanksgiving.
I know, I know. Cabbage is Irish food. It goes with corned beef and Guinness and everybody know that. While that may or may not be true, I came to fully appreciate cabbage while living in England. And, come to think of it, it’s never crossed my plate in Ireland.
Cabbage seems to be part of every homey culinary concoction in England. Shredded cabbage with Sunday Roast, boiled meats with cabbage, the iconic Bubble and Squeak… Perhaps it’s my famously unreliable memory, but it seems to me that cabbage is the Anglo veg du jour on most jours.
Savoy Cabbage is the king of cabbages in British markets. Tall and robust with delicately curling, lace-like leaves, it features prominently as an accompaniment to over-priced pub roast lunches or as the basis for bubble and squeak in autumn markets food stalls.
This recipe pairs cabbage with the other iconic English vegetable: the leek. Leeks are so common in England I’m surprised there has not been poetry dedicated to them. If you can find some leek poetry, I beg you, share it here.
Sausage with Leeks
Oh how my heart leaps…
I have access to huge Savoys in my local grocery store, so I try to make it a veg du jour in my house. If you can’t find it however, get a little green cabbage or two, which will do the job quite nicely.
1 head Savoy or green cabbage
2 large leeks, trimmed and cleaned
6 slices bacon
Halve the cabbage and slice it into fine ribbons. Trim the leeks by slicing off their roots and green tops right at the point they begin to turn white. Check to make sure there isn’t any sneaky dirt hiding inside the various layers around the trimmed sections.
Slice the bacon into 1 inch segments and sprinkle into a heated pan over a medium high temperature. Allow them to sizzle and release some of their fat, then toss in the leeks and a pinch of salt.
Sautée the leeks in the bacon fat until they begin to lightly golden, then add the cabbage and stir carefully to thoroughly coat. Lightly sprinkle over another pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, then cover for about 10 minutes on a medium-low heat and allow the cabbage to soften.
If you like your vegetables al denté — on the firm side, your dish might be done after 10min. If you’re like me and prefer a slightly softer result, stir to disperse the savory brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and cover for another 10 minutes or so.
When it seems to be reaching that personal perfection point which is clear only to you, taste for salt and serve immediately.
This is a very straight forward recipe that allows the simple flavors of each ingredient to shine through without much tampering by the chef. If, however, the chef wants to tamper a bit more, I suggest adding 1-2 Tbsp red vinegar to give it a Germanic/Slavic zing that is truly satisfying.