Braised Green Cabbage with Anchovies and Garlic

March  5, 2015
11 Ratings
  • Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds heavy, firm regular green cabbage, cored, halved, and then cut into 1-inch strips
  • 8 anchovy fillets in oil
  • 1/2 head whole garlic, peeled but leaving cloves whole
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter (plus another chunk to add at the end)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
  • freshly grated parmesan (optional)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jennifer Reed Klingensmith
    Jennifer Reed Klingensmith
  • Stacey Snacks
    Stacey Snacks
  • Denis Nash
    Denis Nash
  • jakestavis
  • Terence Lupton
    Terence Lupton
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

50 Reviews

riceball December 29, 2022
Surprising easy and didn't take that long to braise. I used conehead cabbage that is less dense and cruciferous than green cabbage in a 12" wide, 2" deep cast iron enamel pan. I added olive oil and cut down the butter and, tossed in some sweet onions. I'm partial to med-high heat caramelization and was a bit anxious this would turn out bland and mushy. But this slow, low heat braise yielded tender, sweet ribbons of cabbage and a mellow umami broth with the melted garlic and anchovies. I added in strozzapreti pasta, a cup of shredded parmesan and gruyere cheese, and pasta water to build the sauce. Topped it off with some homemade breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil, chopped parsley, a squeeze of lemon, and seasoned with some salt and black pepper. Very rustic and satisfying weeknight pantry meal.
Carinjo August 1, 2021
I was looking for something easy for the 2 cabbages from allotment languishing in the bottom of fridge. I threw in the whole tin of anchovies including the oil and I used a wide, flat cast iron pan, which left me with some burnt bits at the bottom after 40min or so. Use the extra butter and a splash of water to deglaze the pan a bit. Didn't add salt because of the anchovies and stirred the parmesan straight into the pan which made a light creamy coating. This is definately not an instagram pretty recipe, but oh my it is delicious! I kept tasting straight out of the pan, burning my mouth. Such a simple, easy combination of flavours. A question: will i be able to freeze it? Worried it will go mushy.
Jennifer R. September 18, 2020
This was really good. I was nervous about the anchovies, but they provided a delicious umami flavor that was not overpowering. I even put in the entire tin (more than the 8 called for) because I didn't want just a few leftover. I was also skeptical that braised cabbage would be delicious and not boring, but I have a ton of cabbage from the garden so I need to use it up. I need not have worried, the whole dish was delicious. Alexandra is always spot on with her recipes. It is going into the printed binder of recipes I will regularly cook.
Alexandra S. September 19, 2020
So nice to hear this, Jennifer! I haven't made this one in ages, but with the sudden chill in the air, I'm going to have to revisit it soon. Thanks for writing!
Stacey S. April 20, 2020
Delicious! I used purple and green cabbage. Mine was done in 45 minutes time (starting getting mushy).
I finished it off later on in the oven with parmesan breadcrumbs and capers for the win! The squeeze of lemon was much welcome.
I almost ate the entire pot myself. SO GOOD!
maddie December 12, 2017
i don’t understand! i love braised cabbage so i was very excited to try this recipe. i followed the directions as far as i could comprehend them but the cabbage came out mushy, gritty, kind of flavorless, and still too tough in a lot of places. cooked on low for 1.5hrs. what is watercolor green? does that mean transparent? does anyone know what i might have done wrong?
Maureen February 7, 2018
I had bad luck also. I think maybe the cabbage I used was bitter.
Becky January 22, 2017
Can't wait to try this. I have made several of your recipes and they are always superb, truly wonderful. I want to add how much I appreciate your recipe instructions and tips. They are very well written and so helpful--very clear, outlining each step which makes all the difference in preparing these great dishes. Thanks!
Alexandra S. January 23, 2017
So nice to hear all of this, Becky — thank you! That means a lot. I'm glad the tips have been helpful. I love this braised cabbage, especially this time of year. I hope you do, too.
Denis N. January 7, 2017
Cabbage transformed! Thank you. I enjoyed that.
I included a chili pepper, seeds and all for extra bite.
Alexandra S. January 7, 2017
Nice! Love the idea of some heat.
Denis N. January 7, 2017
A rondeau is a short poem of fixed form. How do you cook in that? Why not use a skillet or a frying pan or a casserole dish?
Alexandra S. January 7, 2017
I had no idea! Funny, it's also the name of a pan, but the word doesn't seem to be in the dictionary. Here's what I found online: Whatever pan you use, you want it to have high-ish sides. I love this dish. Hope you make it soon!
Denis N. January 7, 2017
Thanks for that. Actually it's cooking right now in a cast iron casserole dish. I'll let you know.
Alexandra S. January 7, 2017
Marilyn O. January 7, 2017
Marilyn O. January 7, 2017
whoops, sorry, I see it was already posted!
Stacey S. April 20, 2020
A rondeau is also a French round pot with rounded bottom to braise in. :)
jakestavis May 21, 2016
just came across this saw it as an opportunity to clean out my fridge: I used escarole, endive and celery in place of the cabbage, shallot confit in place of the garlic (with its oil in place of some of the butter), and a bit of chopped preserved lemon instead of the lemon juice. a delicious and apparently adaptable recipe!!
jackieb January 8, 2016
Made this for supper tonight. It was amazing! I added more anchovies because my fillets were pretty small, and the finish with the lemon juice and parmesan was just whst it needed. I'll definitely be making this again. Thanks!
Alexandra S. January 8, 2016
So happy to hear this! I just love this one this time of year.
fearlessem January 1, 2016
This was phenomenal! I cut back the butter from 1 stick to 5 tablespoons and it was still very rich. I served it as a side for a tortilla espanola. I also love that this somehow avoided having that 'boiled cabbage / sauerkraut' smell that sometimes happens with slow cooked cabbage...
Alexandra S. January 1, 2016
Nice! So happy to hear this. And yes, I know that smell :)
Terence L. December 31, 2015
This looks so good to me! A side dish? What would you serve w it? I will likely make it tomorrow because it *does* look so good.
Alexandra S. January 1, 2016
I like it as the main dish! Bread and some grated cheese on top make it a meal. That's me. But, I did make this for my aunt last winter as a side dish for roasted fish. It was delicious!
Jacques M. December 11, 2015
Thank tounfor sharing this recipe. We loved it! My wife says it is the best cabbage dish she ever had. I added none of the optional ingredients and used anchovy paste instead. Amazing cabbage. We too licked the pan! Yes, it's that good.
Alexandra S. December 11, 2015
Makes me so happy! This is one of my favorites, too, especially this time year. Glad to hear the anchovy paste and no-additions version of the recipe work. Wonderful!
NotTooSweet August 20, 2015
Never thought I would make this dish in August, but we had very cool temps here in Iowa yesterday and I had a beautiful cabbage from a local farm. Came to Food52 for ideas, found this recipe and decided to give it a try. Wow! Talk about elevating a simple vegetable to a whole new level. Made recipe with only one change, I used about 3 lbs. of cabbage. I used all the optional ingredients and felt each added a new layer of yum to the dish. Only thing I would perhaps try next time (and there will be a next time) is to make with a little less butter (though I hesitate to mess with what is already so wonderful). I used my enameled cast iron Dutch oven (holds heat extremely well and has a very tight seal/lid). Took exactly one hour (with no peeking). Served with grilled turkey kielbasa and wished we had crusty bread to soak up the "broth" - next time for sure!
Alexandra S. August 24, 2015
So happy to hear this! I know, I never thought I would make this in summer either but we have been getting so much cabbage in our CSA that it just makes sense. It's one of my favorites. So happy you liked it. Let me know how it goes if you make it with less butter...I've been too afraid to try.
JulieBee March 17, 2015
I have the Prune cookbook, but never noticed this recipe (the lack of an index in this amazing book is frustrating). Thanks for pointing it out. I am making it now to jazz up today's otherwise perfunctory St. Patrick's dinner of corned beef and cabbage.
Alexandra S. August 24, 2015
isn't it?! It seems silly not to include one. I love this book as well. Hope it turned out well for St. Patrick's Day! Sorry just seeing this :(
conduke23 March 15, 2015
Delicious creamy...super filling. Perfect for this miserably cold SNOWY March 15th!!
conduke23 March 16, 2015
Even better the 2nd day, thanks for this recipe!
witloof March 11, 2015
I just made a quick, pared down non dairy version of this, cooking the cabbage for about 15 minutes with anchovies, garlic, and some red pepper flakes, and adding a big squeeze of lime juice at the end. It was amazingly easy and delicious.
Alexandra S. March 11, 2015
Nice work! love the idea of the pepper flakes. I was thinking a little heat would be really nice here.
Vic Y. March 10, 2015
Best cabbage dish I've ever eaten..... without a doubt.
Alexandra S. March 11, 2015
Oh, so wonderful to hear this!
Bates,Barley March 10, 2015
Made this gem yesterday for lunch. So yummy and going to put a fried egg on top of it for breakfast tomorrow.
Alexandra S. March 11, 2015
Yay! Makes me so happy, Bates. Aunt Marcy has been cooking up a storm from the Prune cookbook. Last night: roasted cauliflower with brown butter, capers and breadcrumbs. Delish.
Marilyn O. March 8, 2015
what the heck is a "rondeau"? I Googled it and apparently it's a type of poetry????
Alexandra S. March 8, 2015
I didn't know that! It's also a type of pan — it's like a Dutch oven or stock pot but more shallow. I almost didn't use that word because I think very few people use it anymore, and I just used one of my large heavy-bottomed stock pots, but I wanted to keep Hamilton's recipe written mostly as it was. I love her style.
Marilyn O. March 8, 2015
ok, I figured it also had to be SOME type of covered pan, but couldn't find a description. I do have a Dutch oven, so I'll use that. Thanks!