(Updated — scroll down to read.) Translating recipe “Braised Cabbage” reminded me of a dish that my mother makes from time to time. Since we live pretty far from each other I do not get to eat it as often as I would love to. I decided to make this dish following instructions of the translated recipe; therefore, I will not repeat the instructions here. I did however made some modifications to the recipe which I will describe in the post.
Assembling ingredients for this recipe is easy. I started with onions because it takes some time to really caramelize them.
Now, this was the first time where I deviated from the recipe. Recipe calls from 3 tbsp of butter (or oil, since the word масло can be translated as butter or oil if there is no adjective in front of it). 1 tbsp goes into pot with cabbage, the other goes to make roux, so we are left with only 1 tbsp of fat to caramelize onions — to me it is not enough. I used 3 tbsp of olive oil to fry onions.
Once all the cabbage was shredded I put it into a dutch oven together with 1/2 cup of water and 1 tbsp of olive oil.
Throughout the 40 minutes of cooking I mixed it a couple of times, but there was a little bit of burnt marks on the bottom of the pan at the end of 40 minutes. I added onions, bay leaves, sugar, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and another 1/2 cup of water and proceeded to braise for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile I made rough from 1 tbsp of flour and 1 tbsp of unsalted butter. At the end of 10 minutes of braising I added roux to the pot and mixed everything well.
Overall impression — while taste was somewhat similar to my mother’s braised cabbage — there are some things that were different. First of all — it seems that initial 40 minutes of braising is too much. Cabbage came out a bit mushy and overall feeling was that it was overcooked. Perhaps it was the fact that it was shredded fairly thinly. Next time I will braise 30 minutes in the first stage. Second, the cabbage tasted too sweet. Combination of tomato paste and sugar was too much — I will try this recipe without sugar, or with just 1 tsp of sugar. And finally — I do not think roux adds anything to the dish. There was not much sauce to thicken in the first place.
P.S. I did try making this dish the second time, and this time it was a winner. From the start I added 1 cup of water instead of recommended 1/2 cups. I did not measure how much oil I put into a frying pan to caramelize 2 large onions, but I was not stingy with it.
I set kitchen timer for 30 minutes and stirred cabbage a couple of times during the first braising period. Heat level was medium-low; however, when I saw that there was still too much water on the bottom of the pan at the end of 30 minutes, I increased heat lightly and braised for 5 minutes longer before adding onions and other ingredients.
If first time I was cavalier about adding tomato paste, this time I weighted it — 33 grams according to serving size weight of 2 tbsp as indicated on the side of the can. I added onions, tomato paste, sugar (I did keep it), seasoned with salt and pepper and braised for 10 minutes longer.
The end result was great — there was no starchy taste from roux which was completely omitted, cabbage was perfectly done and not overcooked at all. This recipe is a keeper.