Now we have had a good hard frost or two, it’s time to really enjoy the best of the brassicas. Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage all benefit from a hard frost; it cuts a little of the bitterness and gives them a little sweet edge. We’ll be using them a lot more over the coming weeks and months as other more delicate vegetables disappear from the farm stands, but for now I’m going to start with my favourite: the savoy cabbage
Cabbage is a vegetable one usually grows to love rather than falls instantly head over heels for. It can be quite subtle and can easily be cooked to death, giving off a sulphurous death rattle as it goes. But cabbage is best with company. Be it a warm cloak of butter to soothe, the sharp acidity that gives kimchee or sauerkraut its cleansing feel or aromatics like juniper, caraway and nutmeg that seem to amplify when in the same pot as cabbage. And then there is pork. If Frank Sinatra were German, I’m quite sure he would change the lyrics for Love and Marriage to ‘..goes together like pork and cabbage’. It’s a gutsy pairing that really pays off. Cabbage loves the smoky fattiness and the pork loves the crunchy company.
For our rustic match we are not going to overthink things. This is a dinner (or breakfast) for the days when you don’t want to work too hard in the kitchen. Timings aren’t that precise, no special techniques are required and you can get dinner on the table within thirty minutes. That’s the beauty of this savoy cabbage hash: simple, rustic deliciousness.
That said, the one step to this that does need a little bit of attention is the broiled egg. Yes, you read that right and it’s not a typo—broiled not boiled. I started this out as an experiment; I would normally serve this up with a poached egg but decided to see if I could save on using an extra pan. The egg is gently put in the hash and cooked under the grill until the white has just set. You sacrifice a bit of yolk runniness (as the egg cooks from the top, the yolk is going to cook first) but in return you get a nice bit of crisping to the hash as a side effect. If you still want a runny yolk and a firm white you could do this dish equally well with your egg poached, in fact that’s what I did with my leftovers!
- Half a medium Savoy Cabbage, shredded
- About 8oz of Smoked Ham, cubed
- A few stalks of Swiss Chard, stalks cut into 1/4" pieces and leaves shredded
- A clove of Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- A scant teaspoon of Caraway Seeds
- About half a dozen Juniper Berries, bruised
- A couple of Eggs
- Smoked Salt to finish
- Preheat the broiler.
- In your widest pan (preferably with a lid but you can use a plate or foil if needed) heat up a slurp of Olive Oil over a medium heat. Add the ham and let it sizzle away while you prep the other ingredients.
- When the ham has browned here and there, add the cabbage, chard, garlic, juniper and caraway seeds. Give it a stir to mix through and let it cook covered for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid; the greens will have cooked down enough for you to stir things up without fear of it trying to escape. Keep it cooking, letting things move around until most of the moisture has evaporated; about another 5 minutes or so. Taste the hash and season as needed depending on how salty your pork is.
- Transfer the hash to a heatproof dish (or two if you're going to eat directly from them). Make a small depression in the hash for each of the eggs. Crack each egg into a bowl then gently pour into the dips. Broil for about 6-8 minutes until the whites are just set. Keep an eye on things, and if any of the cabbage or ham start to burn just gently fold them into the hash and bring some fresh stuff onto the top layer.
- To serve, remove the hash from the broiler and sprinkle the egg with a little (smoked) salt
Pairing with Smoked Ham and Savoy Cabbage Hash
This feels like a homey beery dish, and I can imagine sitting by an open fire eating this meal with a nice smokey Scottish Ale. That said, if I were having this for brunch I would go for a michelada; the earthy smokey spices would complement the hash really well.
Savoy Cabbage: Hoeffner Farm
Smoked Ham: Flying Pigs Farm
Swiss Chard: Migliorelli Farm
Garlic: Keith’s Farm
Caraway Seeds: Kalustyan’s
Juniper Berries: Sahadi’s
Eggs: Quattro’s Game Farm