Cruciferous crusaderJune 13, 2011
Does anyone else find themselves eating significantly more meat in winter?
Sydney weather has turned utterly miserable in the last little while – freezing temperatures, wild winds and absolutely bucketing rain. It’s fantastic cooking weather so long as you have a well-stocked pantry and fridge, because going out into the rain to forage is vile. I’ve been on a pastry roll (boom tish) during the past week, as I’m determined to improve my competence in that department and have done some experimenting with blind-baking pie bases versus not doing so, with gratifying results, which I’ll post about soon.
But while this weather is perfect for pastry and all that comes with it – rich meat pies, chicken and mushroom pies and so on – the downside to all this is of course the stodge factor, the high meat factor, and the accompanying risk of increasing boombalahdism.
So my challenge in the next while is to find some hearty and delicious winter dishes that depend more on vegetables than meat. I’m happy to notch up the carbs for a bit, because it just feels right to load up a little for winter, but having worked hard to lose some weight in the first half of the year, I would rather not blow all that by going too crazy with the carbs and fat and meat for the next few months.
Enter the humble Brassica family.
My favourite thing of last week was a cabbage accompaniment to some very good pork chops – an old Jamie Oliver number I posted about way back in the early days of this blog. It’s a delicious fatfest – pork, pears, potatoes and parsnip – and needs a sharp accompaniment to balance all that sweetness and stodge.
Cabbage is one of my favourite overlooked ingredients. I think we can all hark back to childhood for some reasonably ghastly memories of flabby, colourless boiled cabbage and that sad, defeated smell. But when it’s done well, cabbage can provide a wonderfully sparky lift to a meal I reckon. And there is also the virtuous cancer-fighting glow that comes from consuming any member of the Brassica family (love that it sounds so like a contemporary primary schoolgirl’s name, except of course the spelling would need some adjustment. “Brassikah! Come here! We have to go pick up Crucifera from ballet!”)
In the summer just gone I was introduced to an incredibly good shredded cabbage and Parmesan salad by Caro (she of the roasted cherry chutney and many other goodies on this blog), which I will tell you more about some other time. But this not being salady weather, this week I adapted a couple of different recipes to come up with the following side dish. I recommend it. Oh and please forgive the low photo quality – all this getting dark at 5pm makes good evening photography an impossibility…
Cabbage with caraway and currants
- olive oil
- ¼ cup (or less) finely chopped bacon, pancetta or speck
- 2 French shallots, finely chopped
- few cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ¼ head of shredded white cabbage
- ½ cup of cup verjuice
- large handful currants
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- salt & pepper
- Saute the bacon, shallot and garlic in a good splash of oil until soft.
- Add the cabbage and stir thoroughly to coat with oil, fry over high heat for a few minutes.
- Add the verjuice and stir to mix well.
- Add currants and caraway seeds, cover and cook for a few minutes more until cabbage is tender but retains a touch of crunch. Season & serve.
And now I’d love some ideas from you about hearty, warming, non-meat dishes for winter. What are your favourites?