You often see cabbages the size of a basketball, and I’m sure these are fine if you have pigs to feed, or perhaps if you dislike your neighbours and are lucky enough to own a small trebuchet. But. Around this time of year you will often see small cabbages, barely larger than your fist, and these are glorious things. The white ones are a little sharper, and very much the Secret Ingredient in a good minestrone or cassoulet. Here’s what to do with a red one as a side dish.
- one small red cabbage
- one red apple
- one red onion
- 250mL red wine (or 125mL wine, plus the juice and zest of an orange)
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, plus any other spices you fancy: mace, nutmeg, et cetera
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 clove, crushed
- 30mL vegetable oil, maybe more, maybe a knob of butter
You’ll need quite a large pan, as the cabbage is bulky to begin with.
- chop the stalk off the cabbage, remove the outer leaves, and slice fairly finely, but doesn’t matter if you’re not precise
- coarsely grate the apple, including the peel, avoiding the core
- dice the onion, and fry in the oil until soft
- add the cabbage, and stir fry on a fairly high heat until it softens up
- add the sugar, spices, apple and wine
- bring to the boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer
- stir occasionally until the liquid reduces into sticky goo, and then turn off the heat.
This is a fairly forgiving dish and, if you use a fairly heavy pot, will stay warm whilst you’re doing other things.
My childhood memories of sprouts are not happy ones. My family’s traditional approach meant Christmas sprouts went on the boil in late November, and were little flaccid bags of sour farty nastiness. They have since been rescued from my hate list by pancetta, which improves just about everything, except perhaps ice cream.
This is based on something that Him What Knows dishes up on a regular basis, although I confess I don’t have the original recipe. Even devout sprout haters like me will be happy after a few mouthfuls of this.
Start by getting a large frying pan going at a low heat, and gently frying 75g of pancetta, stirring occasionally. Nowt of that foreign muck? Just some sweet cured belly bacon will do.
Wash 600g of Brussels Sprouts and slice off the stalks and any icky bits. If you slice off too much stalk, the sprout will come to pieces.
By now the pancetta should be well on its way to being golden, crispy and oozing out most of its fat, so boil the sprouts in a small saucepan of water until you can pierce one with a skewer. Expect a reasonable amount of resistance: they’ll keep cooking in their own heat and they’re due for more in the frying pan.
Drain them and add to the frying pan, along with 200g cooked chestnuts (you can purchase these in handy vacuum sealed bags), 25g butter, a generous grind of pepper and a pinch of salt. Raise the heat slightly, and fry for five minutes, stirring from time to time. Quite a lot of gunk will build up on the bottom of the pan, so deglaze with around 30mL of Vermouth, which will be absorbed quite rapidly, before transferring to a warmed dish to serve.
Here’s what goes with the slow roast lamb shoulder. In terms of timing, it’s quite forgiving.
- 600g parnsnips
- 600g carrots
- salt, pepper
- 2tbsp honey
Wash and scrub the veg thoroughly, but I wouldn’t bother peeling them. Quarter them lengthways: you want pieces of roughly equal thickness, so slimmer roots can just be halved or trisected if your knife skillz are up to it. Some parsnips have very thin spindly ends, which will burn, so chop them off.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, and add the carrots. After five minutes add the parsnips. After another five minutes try piercing a piece of carrot with a metal skewer. If you can, albeit with a little resistance, then they’re done.
Drain the veg and then tip them into small baking dish (one or two layers) and add 25g fat: duck fat or butter is preferable; lard or vegetable oil in an emergency. Toss them around with a spoon to get them coated, and season lightly. You can now set aside, at room temperature, for as long as you need.
If, like me, you’re doing lamb at Gas 2, then pop them in an hour before the lamb is done. When I remove the lamb, I then crank the oven up to max, and also remove this dish, so I can pour over the honey, toss again to coat, and then return to the oven for another fifteen minutes. That way they’re done at the same time the lamb has finished resting. Do keep an eye on them, as the honey glaze can burn quite rapidly.
Otherwise about half an hour on Gas 5 (190°C, less in a fan oven) basting with the honey after fifteen minutes.