I'm a big cabbage fan, but I recognize that not everyone adores the stuff. With St. Patrick's Day coming up, images of soggy cabbage leaves smelling of wet socks are undoubtedly being conjured up for many by the window displays. But cabbage need not be such a watery affaire! Here is a rather more sensuous take on the vegetable, with plenty of richness from bacon and hazelnuts, and sweetness from onion and red wine.
Braised cabbage with lardons and hazelnuts
(Makes 3 to 4 side servings)
2 thick slices bacon
1 sweet onion
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 head green cabbage
1/2 cup red wine
salt and pepper
Cut into small pieces the bacon slices and begin to cook them over medium heat in a thick-bottomed skillet (cast iron is my choice), letting the fat melt. Meanwhile, halve and cut the onion into thin strips. Once the bacon grease has melted to some extent, add the onion, salt and nutmeg, and let it brown and soften, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Julienne the cabbage thinly. Bring the pan to a high heat. When the onion is beginning to caramelize, add the shredded cabbage. Braise it, stirring often in order to avoid burning.
Coarsely chop or break up the hazelnuts and add them to the skillet. Add the red wine. Lower the heat again to medium-low. Add salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid or tin foil. Let simmer until soft and browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.