Tuesday, 2 September 2008

An easy supper: Cabbage and bacon

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great meal. In this case that’s as long as you have a good head of cabbage. If you’re veggie, leave out the bacon, add more onion and some red pepper, for colour.

As a kid I was forced to try dishes, including those that I might have rejected in previous samplings. I never came around to tripe or sauerkraut, but hunger, sibling rivalry and the prospect of supper for breakfast meant I managed to choke most things down. This is one I got to love and is so good it also conquered daughter number two without the extreme measures I was subject to. In fact my wasted sensitivity earned me the reproach ‘why didn’t you tell me about this?’

So, let’s debate which type of cabbage to use. This recipe can be made with pretty much any cabbage, but I like Savoy cabbage best. It’s beautiful, with intricate lace-like veining, brain-like bumpiness and it’s leaves range from rich green to sunny yellow at the heart. It tastes great and, by the way it’s also the best cabbage to use if you want to make stuffed cabbage.

So, other than a good head of cabbage, to serve four hungry people you’ll need an onion, a packet of bacon, a knob of butter, a healthy pinch of salt (adjust the pinch if you’re using salted bacon) and some vigorous grindings of black pepper.

Cabbage and bacon Serves 4

What you need

* 1 cabbage
* 1 onion
* 1 packet bacon
* Knob of butter
* Pepper
* Salt

How you do it

1. Remove the core and any damaged outer leaves of the cabbage
2. Slice up the cabbage and leave to rinse in a bowl of cold water
3. Chop up the bacon
4. Put pan onto low heat, add chopped bacon and knob of butter
5. Peel the onion and chop up roughly, then add chopped onion to cook with the bacon, stirring occasionally
6. After about five minutes, or once the onion becomes soft, add the wet cabbage. Don’t shake off the water, that’s all the water needed to cook the cabbage
7. Add pinch of salt and black pepper
8. Cover with pan lid and cook for around 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is soft, and most of the water has cooked off. The cabbage should still be a good colour green.

Eat straight away, on its own, or top it with an egg or some cheese to make a substantial meal

Word of warning: keep the heat low, or you may end up with burnt cabbage

Any leftovers are great mixed with potato and fried up to make bubble and squeak, or as a tasty topping for shepherd’s pie, veggie or meat.