This recipe comes from Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton’s first cookbook, and, like many of the vegetable recipes included in the book, relies on a minimal but big-flavor ingredient list — garlic, anchovies, butter — and good technique: proper braising over low heat with a tight-fitting lid. Never did I imagine cabbage alone could count as dinner, but I find this cabbage completely addictive. Lemon and parsley added at the very end offer an acidity and freshness that so nicely complements the briny broth, and parmesan and a hunk of bread make it a meal. —Alexandra Stafford
4 to 6 as a side dish
heavy, firm regular green cabbage, cored, halved, and then cut into 1-inch strips
anchovy fillets in oil
head whole garlic, peeled but leaving cloves whole
unsalted butter (plus another chunk to add at the end)
In a large, heavy-bottomed rondeau, heat the butter over medium-low heat. Add the anchovies and garlic and stir around until the garlic softens slightly and the anchovies dissolve a bit. Do not fry or otherwise brown the garlic and anchovy; we want it to just soften and take on a sweet quality rather than a nutty one. Stir frequently and let the garlic and anchovy cook gently and slowly.
Rinse the cabbage ribbons under cold running water in a colander and allow to drain without shaking the colander. Whatever water that remains in the crevices is desired.
Turn the colander of cabbage out into the rondeau and stir well with the garlic and anchovy, coating all the ribbons with the fat. (Note: At this step, I sprinkle a big pinch of salt over the cabbage.) If this pot has a tight-fitting lid, cover the rondeau and turn down the heat and let the cabbage gently cook over low heat, retaining its own moisture and letting whatever condensation forms on the lid to drip back into the pot. This wants to be a true braise. If the pot does not have a tight-fitting lid, use both parchment and foil to create a tight seal.
This can take an hour to braise but sometimes less depending on the cabbage itself. Some heads are sturdier than others. (Note: I find an hour at my burner's lowest setting works perfectly — I don't lift the lid once to check on it anymore. I do use a sheet of parchment paper under the lid, which helps create a tighter seal.)
Keep an eye on it and cook until soft watercolor green color; the cabbage should still hold its shape and there should be a rich "broth" formed from the anchovy, the sweet liquid of the cabbage, and the now very soft cloves of garlic.
Into this stir in a good chunk of cold butter with a wooden spoon and shake the pot a bit as well. This will turn the cabbage a bit creamy and take off any of the hard saltiness of the anchovy.
Taste the cabbage, add more salt and pepper if necessary, and squeeze half of the lemon into the pot. Stir. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. Add parsley if using, stir, then spoon into bowls. Grate parmesan over top and pass more lemon on the side.