Cabbage with Fennel Seed and Apple Brandy

At the kickoff of the new extended season of the Albuquerque Downtown Growers’ Market, farmers’ tables were bursting with wonderful wintery crops. A menagerie of winter squashes rubbed shoulders with garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, arugula, and some absolutely amazing cabbages. I bought a gorgeous ruffled cabbage from Chispas Farms, and it’s probably the best cabbage I have ever tasted. It’s worth seeking out for its fabulous texture and flavor, which is more like Brussels sprouts or Dino kale.

For the 2013 winter season, the Downtown Growers’ Market will be held in the parking lot between Java Joe’s and Firenze Pizzeria, Saturdays from November 9 to December 21. I am so excited! For years I’ve been hoping they would do this, because it’s so hard to go all winter without my weekly fix of local veggies and community spirit. Also, I’ve always thought it would be a great place to do my holiday shopping! Other winter markets include the Corrales and Los Ranchos Markets, which are held once a month from November, and the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, held inside their lovely building.

This is a simple recipe worthy of that beautiful cabbage. A quick saute with French grey shallots from my garden and ground fennel seed round out the warm, nutty flavor. A splash of apple brandy, produced from local apples by Santa Fe Spirits, lends a gentle but noticeable hint of apple and sweetness. If you can’t find ruffled cabbage, feel free to try it with any kind of savoy cabbage, Dino kale, or Brussels sprouts.

1 small ruffled cabbage, such as Famosa
2 shallots
2 T. butter
1 t. ground fennel seeds
1 T. apple brandy
2 T. cream (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Quarter the cabbage, remove the core, and slice into half-inch strips. Finely chop the shallots. Melt butter in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, saute for just a minute, then add the cabbage and fennel seed, tossing to coat with butter.

Cover with parchment or a lid left slightly ajar, and cook without stirring for several minutes, until the cabbage is just tender and slightly browned. 

Add the brandy and toss to cook off the alcohol. Turn off heat and stir in cream if desired. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot or warm.


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