Caramelized Vegetables

A few months ago upon one of my visits to the Clifton Inn kitchen, I tried a preparation of a super simple ingredient that one of the chefs at the Clifton Inn dreamed-up.  It was cooked cabbage.  But it wasn’t stewed or braised or even fermented.  It was simply a big green cabbage, quartered, and sauteed slowly in oil on its cut edges so that it softened and almost steamed the leaves.  We separated all the leaves and used them in one of the dishes during service that night, but I imagined that keeping the quarter intact and eating or serving it as a thick wedge could be very interesting as well.

I bought a baby cabbage from the Charlottesville City Market last weekend, and I wasn’t sure how to prepare it.  It wasn’t nearly as crisp or crunch as full-size cabbages, and it was quite leafy, so I had been slowly pealing off the leaves one-by-one and chiffonading them to put in salads.  I had plucked down to the firmer core when I remembered sort-of pan-seared cabbage from the Clifton Inn and decided to give it a try.

CabbageBecause my cabbage was so small and would cook fairly quickly, I decided to sear over medium heat in beef fat and butter to caramelize the cut edges.  I basted the wedges whilst they were cooking and the leaves soaked it all up.  The way the leaves softened or wilted, yet crisped-up reminded me very much of Brussels sprouts, which turned out to be very appropriate because cabbages and Brussels sprouts are both in the same cruciferous family of vegetables.  Aside from being not quite as dainty, they were just about as tasty as Brussels sprouts.

I had also heard about browning the outside of radishes in butter.  I must embarassedly admit that I thought the turnips I had bought at the farmer’s market were white radishes, and that’s why I initially tried caramelizing them in a pan with butter. It wasn’t until I thought back on the lack of the peppery radish bite and crisp radish texture that I realized the more tender and mild segments I had made were actually turnips!

Turnips on Wood

I took these plates outside and photographed them in my backyard to get the green, contrasting backdrop:

Turnips Outside

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