They eat a lot of cabbage in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.” We checked, and the word is mentioned 15 times. John Singer, our hero, if you can call him that, hates it.
“Singer sat at the table three times a day. He ate what was put before him, except cabbage and oysters.”
And because Singer didn’t like it, well, that meant Mick Kelly didn’t like it either.
“Each new thing she learned about him was important… He didn’t like cabbage… Now she couldn’t eat cabbage either.”
And whenever any of us are hosting Goatherd book club discussions, we like to take clues from the book about what to serve. (At lease we have ever since CynDee set the bar so extraordinarily high with her Italian meal in honor of A Room with a View.)
This particular recipe, which I found a while back in New York magazine, calls for braising the cabbage with bacon and onions and also adding grapes and a bunch of butter. I would venture to guess that even John Singer and Mick Kelly would have liked it.
Recipe, after the jump.
Braised Savoy Cabbage
1 large head Savoy cabbage (approximately 2 to 3 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced crosswise in lardons
12 medium-size cipollini onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup white grapes, halved, seeds removed
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 tablespoons butter, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sage leaves
Quarter the cabbage, remove core, and slice crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the cabbage, and cook for 2 minutes. Strain the cabbage and immediately transfer into ice bath. Allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes, then drain, using your hands to squeeze out excess water. Set aside.
Heat a large sauté pan, add the oil and bacon, and cook until bacon turns light brown in color, about 2 minutes. Add the cipollini onions and cook over medium heat until the onions begin to caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the honey and continue to cook until well combined. Add the blanched cabbage and grapes, season with salt and pepper, and sauté over high heat until the water releases from the cabbage and evaporates completely.
Once the mixture appears dry, add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the butter and continue to cook until incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the liquid has thickened, add the whole sage leaves and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately.