When I was a kid, my dad did a fair bit of overnight traveling for work. I always knew my dad was on an out of town road trip when I smelled the unmistakeable odour of cabbage being boiled for dinner. My mom and granny loved it; my dad couldn’t stand even the smell of it cooking. I therefore called it a victory of considerable magnitude when we had my folks over for dinner recently and he not only didn’t hate the cabbage side dish I’d made with meatloaf – he actually liked it.
I had never cooked cabbage before this year. I neither liked nor disliked it as a kid so I never bothered to try cooking it or even paying much attention to it. I knew I liked coleslaw and cabbage rolls, though, and knew it was a fundamental ingredient in both. It turns out cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. It is also a very good source of manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B1, folate and copper, and weighs in at a hefty 22 calories per cup. (That’s about the same as one twisty snack pretzel!)
But you know what I love the very most about cabbage? You can fry it up with bacon, garlic and onions and have the world’s best side dish. My friend Danielle recommended this recipe not too long after Christmas and I’m sure we’ve had it at least twice a month, maybe more, ever since. The smell of garlic and onions frying in rendered bacon fat is a thing of beauty, and despite being fried in bacon fat the sheer volume of low-calorie cabbage turns this dish into a reasonably nutritious, low-calorie AND flavourful option. This is the dish that I want to cook up for Sobeys #PotluckChallenge for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day!
(Remember I mentioned it last week? The Better Food for All site is now live – you can now register your potluck event and to share tips and tools to host the perfect potluck event. And through it all, Sobeys will be donating to the Children’s Aid Foundation in support of cooking workshops for kids across Canada. And don’t forget to visit the Food Revolution Day site, too. Food Revolution Day is coming up two weeks from this Friday on May 16!)
So, back to the recipe – I streamlined and tweaked it a bit from the link above. Here’s how it rolls in my kitchen. Chop up three, or six, or however many you have available, strips of bacon and set them up to cook in a really big pot over medium heat. While the bacon is cooking and rendering, spend an inordinate of time cursing and trying to peel several cloves of garlic (seriously, there must be a trick to peeling garlic that I am missing. Help?) and decide that three cloves is better than the six you were aiming for, and chop that up with half an onion or so. When the bacon is mostly crispy, about 10 minutes or so, pour most of the fat into a jar without pouring it all over the outside of said jar (I am still perfecting this part) but don’t be too fussy about getting it all out. Put the pot with the bacon and a little bit of the fat back on the burner and dump in the garlic and onions. Give it all a good stir and wait for the magic.
While you are waiting for the alchemy, cut up the cabbage and swear that one day you will replace the ridiculous child’s toys that are your kitchen knives. I cut mine into strips that are small enough that they aren’t coleslaw candidates but not so large I can’t stuff a lot of them into my mouth at once. Avoid the core of the cabbage – you’ll have more than enough to fill your pot, trust me! Right about now take a deep whiff of the heavenly aroma that is the garlic and onions carmelizing in the bacon fat. There is no smell better in my kitchen, ever. Once the onion becomes translucent, maybe 5 or 7 minutes, start dumping the chopped-up cabbage into the pot. I dump some in and then use tongs to mix the cabbage in with the garlic, onions and bacon, then add more cabbage and mix some more, until the pot is full or I run out of cabbage. Despite the recipe, I usually only add a smallish pinch of kosher salt and that’s all – I find the bacon plenty salty and the onions and garlic give it all the flavour it needs.
If you perchance have burned the bacon to the bottom of the pot, which
never happens to me regularly, don’t worry! Put a lid on the pot when you’ve crammed in as much cabbage as it can hold and let it stew in its own juices for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring frequently with tongs or a big spoon. The juice from the cabbage will soften up the flavourful burnt bits and you can scrape them into the mix as you’re cooking. Take the lid off the pot for another 10 to 15 minutes of cooking and you’re done. It is one of my favourite side dishes (goes great with meatloaf or any BBQ meat) and it’s even better by itself for lunch the next day, cold or warmed up. Best part? The kids eat it!!!!
Since I loved that dish so much I thought I would love this easy variation on the same theme – cabbage wrapped in bacon and grilled in foil on the BBQ. But meh, it was not worth trying a second time. I did expand my cabbage repertoire to include homemade coleslaw last week, though. I’ve always liked coleslaw but hate that the storebought versions have so much sugar and other things I can’t identify. This vinegar coleslaw recipe was fairly easy and I liked the tangy-ness of it.
I’m open to suggestions, though – got a family favourite coleslaw recipe to share? I personally like mine on the oil and vinegar side of the spectrum, but I am not opposed to a creamy recipe if its a keeper. Do you cook cabbage? I’d love to hear your favourite recipe or tips!
And now for the giveaway part! Thanks to our friends at Sobeys and their Better Food for All campaign, I have a $50 Sobeys gift card to share with one lucky winner. You could buy a lot of cabbage at Sobeys for $50, I’m just sayin’! Want to win? Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite dish is to bring to a potluck. Or are you the one who volunteers to bring the plates and napkins?
Here’s the fine print:
- This is a giveaway for one $50 gift card for Sobeys.
- To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post (not on Facebook, must appear on danigirl.ca/blog) telling me your favourite dish or item to bring to a potluck.
- One winner will be chosen at random from all comments posted.
- Everyone who “likes” Postcards from the Mothership on Facebook will get a bonus entry. (This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.) If you already like Postcards from the Mothership on FB, just say so in your comment.
- This giveaway is open only to residents of Canada, excluding residents of Quebec. (sorry!)
- This giveaway will run until 11:59 pm EDT on Friday May 9, 2014.
- If you win, you must be willing to provide your full name and address to me so I can mail you the gift card.
Thanks to Sobeys for sponsoring this one and good luck to everyone who enters.
Disclosure: The author has received consideration from Sobeys or Sobeys’ media partners in exchange for this content. Sobeys has not reviewed these claims and is not responsible for the content.