Edible tapped two of our favorite local chefs -- Rachel Mabb and Kevin Laster -- both of whom excel at making classic dishes that comfort as much as they nourish, for their favorite ways to eat cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day and beyond.
The botanical name for our subject, Brassica oleracea capitata, sounds far more dramatic and Celtic than the standard name for which the green or purple biennial plant is more commonly known.
Yep, we’re talking cabbage.
Cabbage has been domesticated for more than 2,500 years, with Celts bringing cabbage over to the Emerald Isle from Asia in 600 BC. The hardy plant grows prolifically, even in Ireland’s challenging climate, and managed to get the Irish through many a tough harvest season (including the potato blight that started in 1845, eventually killing more than one million Irish citizens).
Many of us in the Capital District who may eschew the woefully underrated cruciferous vegetable on any other day generally eat it in some form when raising a glass of frothy Guinness or amber Jameson’s to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. For the locally minded, Olde Saratoga’s Oatmeal Stout or Albany Distilling Company’s Ironweed Bourbon are toast-worthy stand-ins for the traditional Irish tipples.
Cabbage thrives in almost any form of preparation: It can be pickled, fermented, steamed, roasted, fried, stewed, braised, sautéed or eaten raw in salads. It can used to complement a dish (kimchi!) or as the main event (braised red wine cabbage). Will #cabbage be trending on social media like its critically lauded cousins Brussels sprouts and kale? We can dream.
In the meantime, Edible tapped two of our favorite local chefs, both of whom excel at making classic dishes that comfort as much as they nourish, for their favorite ways to eat cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day and beyond.
Rachel Mabb, executive chef at the Ruck, delivers an astoundingly creative take on cabbage, called Baby Bubble & Squeak Cakes, cute enough to serve at a tea party but serious enough to build a solid base for a night (and day?) of intensely Irish-American revelry. Kevin Laster, executive chef at the Washington Tavern, slipped us a recipe that has been made in Ireland for generations, and with good reason. Colcannon utilizes leftovers, farm-fresh seasonal greens and a hearty knob of butter, for a soul-warming stew that is guaranteed to make you tear up like it’s last call, your lover has left you, and “Molly Malone” comes on the jukebox.