MH: About a week ago, I bought a green cabbage and some Italian sausage to make a quirky version of stuffed cabbage. I thought I’d blanch the cabbage to soften the leaves, separate them from the head, and stuff them with the sausage filling, but I was short on time this morning and took a different route. I cored the cabbage, thickly sliced it crosswise, and layered the slices and the sausage meat snugly into a heavy ovenproof pot with a lid. I added a splash of water (though chicken stock would have been good), a drizzle of olive oil, a knob of butter, salt, and a crushed peperoncino, then covered the pot. It took about two and a half hours in a 300°F oven to cook until the cabbage had softened and even caramelized on the bottom layer. Braising cabbage like this brings out its sweetness and turns a hard, clunky vegetable into something supple and tender. We may be eager for spring vegetables to arrive but taming a winter staple like cabbage tastes pretty good.
CH: I know I said that I was only going to drink water today after carb-loading yesterday, but I have decided to look forward and not back! So, today’s lunch is a quicker, less elaborate version of a beloved recipe, Drunken Sauerkraut (flavored with caraway, vermouth, and gin) with a Smoked Pork Chop (Volume 6, The Supermarket, page 94). That’s a nice light meal. Since everyone is stuck at home with some time on their hands, the full-on recipe is so good that I dream about its special flavor. Hats off to Julie Sproesser—a lovely young woman who worked with us way back when—who shared her grandmother Bernece’s recipe. Now wouldn’t it please Bernece to think that people were cooking it to comfort themselves in these difficult times. She might also suggest, since you have the gin and vermouth out, to stir up a little martini for the cook.
Eat well, stay healthy—please.