By The Hack
“What’s that smell?”
That was the query delivered to the Hack from his Significantly Better Half on Sunday night. She was painting the dining room, but could still pick up the distinctive odor of braising cabbage.
What can anyone say about cooking cabbage? The Hack’s olfactory apparatus, as forgiving as it may be, can detect the hint of sweatsocks in braised cabbage. He understands people’s apprehensions. But, is there a more savory braised leafy vegetable? No. There is not.
The Hack found himself with time on his hands, which he spent at the stove, after a busy couple months for himself and his Significantly Better Half. February was one of those time frames that accumulated mounds of lousy news as tall as the snow pile in the St. Paul Sears parking lot (it was taller than the streetlamps during that month) on the personal front. But, given the context of global events, the Hack and his Significantly Better Half could still look at their house, their good friends, their year-old pup, 19-year-old cat, and be thankful.
So, there the Hack was. Standing there, hunks of red and green cabbage steaming in a pan with shallots and olive oil, while he divvied up a two-pound slab of trout from Todd Thomas at the St. Paul Farmers Market. (The Hack isn’t sure what’s dumber: The Hack himself, for not remembering the name of Thomas’ company, from which he’s bought fish for years, or the St. Paul Farmer’s Market website for not having that information.)
He wandered down to the market on Saturday, after a workout in the morning. After picking up his slab of trout (and a dozen eggs from the comediennes at Bar 5), he strolled into the market at the Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market, and saw some red and green cabbages piled up, about the size of softballs. He bought one of each (along with a couple chocolate croissants, chocolate chip cookies, and a cup of black bean chili).
Saturday was busy. But Sunday evening: Again, a mostly relaxing day led to the query from the Significantly Better Half: “What’s that smell?”
“It’s good for your boobs,” the Hack answered, truthfully. Just look at the breast cancer stats for Polish women. They eat a lot of cabbage. Science says those women don’t have that problem in their boobies so much, because of all the cabbage in their diet. It’s true.
The cabbage stewed and shriveled. The Hack salted and peppered his trout trout cuts, about 5-6 ounces each. The cabbage finished up, he pulled it from the heat—still firm, but obviously cooked.
Tossed about two tablespoons of butter in a non-stick pan, heated ‘er up over medium heat. The butter just started to brown when he dropped in the trout, skin side down to start. Tossed some diced shallot and a chopped tomato in a small saute pan heated with some olive oil. Let ’em sweat a bit. Then tossed in a diced tomato, a Bushel Boy greenhouse dealie. He flipped the trout after three minutes—no more than that, and let ‘em go about three minutes more. Meanwhile, heated up another tablespoon or two of butter in a sauce pan, when melted, threw in a couple pinches or dried thyme (that’s all he had on hand). Stirred the tomatoes stewing in the sauté pan.
Spooned some cabbage on the plate. Set the trout next to it. Drizzled thyme butter on the trout slab, spooned stewed tomatoes on top. There it was. One of the last cold weather meals of the season.
• ½ head small green cabbage
• 1/4 head small red cabbage
• 2 tablespoons olive oil, or therabouts
• 2 shallots, chopped
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
For this cabbage mixture, use your noggin’. You might not have small heads of cabbage. Adjust. Don’t be dumb.
Trim the cabbage chunks, removing the stem and heart, slice it somewhat finely.
mix together in a bowl. In a wide saucepan over medium heat, warm the
olive oil. Add the shallots and the cabbage, season with salt and pepper,
and stir. Cover and braise for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and
set aside to cool.
• 2 rainbow trout fillets, about 6 ounces each
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons butter
• fresh or dried thyme
Season both sides of the trout fillets with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s just turing brown, add the fillets, skin-side down. Sauté about 3 minutes, depending on thickness.
Meanwhile, toss another bit of diced shallot (or garlic) in a saute pan with olive oil. Let them sweat a bit, then add the chopped tomato—a medium size one is plenty for two fish filets. A little salt. Don’t let ’em go too long, or you have mush.
Flip and brown the other side of the trout for about 3 more minutes, tops.
While that’s happening, melt another two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Throw in a couple pinches of dried thyme, or fresh if you’ve got it.
Place a lump of cabbage on a plate. Set the filet next to it, skin-side down, on individual serving plate alongside a lunmp of the Sprinkle each with the fresh dill. Drizzle a little of the thyme butter over each serving. Serve immediately.