This one sentence has sparked debate among professional chef’s and cooks all over the country. Braising cabbage has been the go-to for centuries. While it works and in many cases tastes wonderful I will tell you first hand your home will smell of…well…you get the picture.
Not only does braising cabbage take a long time, but it also requires stock in Yankee Candle in order to counteract the smell. Thankfully after careful research and some in-home testing, we’ve found the perfect alternative…blackened cabbage.
Now before you scrunch up your nose and say “no one wants blackened cabbage” just read through what I’m about to tell you.
You need two things for blackened cabbage: a very hot cast-iron or carbon steel pan, and a neutral oil. Don’t use butter or olive oil to sear—these have low smoking points and will definitely break down and burn.
Here’s how to do it: set a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and quarter the cabbage (remove the core—that’s not getting tender any time soon). Add the cabbage cut side down, covered, for 10 minutes. Crank the kitchen fan and use that vent hood. But don’t touch the cabbage.
After 10 minutes, remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and add 4 tablespoons of butter. As the butter melts, tilt the pan (please be sure to hold the handle with a towel) and start spooning the melted butter over the cabbage rapidly (this is called “basting”). Baste for about 20-30 seconds, then cover the cabbage and let it cook for another 3 minutes. Repeat this basting and covering rigmarole twice, then remove the cover. Place pan in a oven heated to 400°F and roast for 6 minutes.
I promise you it will be well worth it. In fact, I have the perfect recipe to go with this method. So let’s keep reading and take a look at a few things that will take this process and make it over the top delicious.
This method is foolproof however this next recipe will require a few more ingredients but nothing that’s too out of the ordinary.
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 medium green cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1″ pieces dried kombu
10 basil leaves
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Flaky sea salt
Heat oil in a carbon-steel or castiron pan over medium-high, then add half of cabbage (save the other half for Monday’s stir-fry), cut side down. Cook, undisturbed (yep, don’t move it), until the underside is nearly blackened, 10–15 minutes. When you start worrying that it’s completely burned and possibly ruined, you’ll know you’re doing it right.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add butter (yes, half a stick, but relax—most of it will never make it onto the plate), shaking the pan to help it get in, around, and under the cabbage. When it foams, tilt the pan toward you and spoon the now-browning butter up and over the top of cabbage 30 seconds.
Work the Core:
Continue cooking and basting every 3 or 4 minutes, making sure to hit the thick core end of the cabbage as well as the top. The butter will get very dark, and that’s fine—add a knob or two more if needed to bring it back from the brink. Remember, most of it will stay in the pan.
Meanwhile, grind kombu to a powder in a spice mill (or use a mortar and pestle). You’re about to add another layer of flavor. After the cabbage has been cooking 10–12 minutes, add the kelp powder to the butter; baste the cabbage again.
Cabbage is a dense, multilayered vegetable, so how do you know when it’s ready? Take a tip from Puglisi and use a cake tester to check for doneness. If it slides through the layers easily, your cabbage is ready. No cake tester? A thin metal or bamboo skewer will do the trick.
Cut the cabbage in half on a cutting board (you’ll have two quarters in front of you at this point). Tuck basil between a few layers. Drizzle with vinegar and season with salt. Let cabbage sit a minute or two for the herbs to soften before serving. It will smell divine.
There you have it. The best way to make cabbage! Don’t believe me? Try it out just once and you will see. Oh, and let us know if you do try it and if you’ve made any tweaks to the process. We would love to hear what creations our readers come up with!