I have a small arsenal of simple side dishes that I regularly pull out when a quick and/or easy meal is necessary if we want to eat that night. Roasted broccoli, sweet potato chips and this fried cabbage and pancetta dish make up the core of this arsenal. I can pan fry a piece of fish or chicken schnitzel, or roast some chicken pieces, pair the protein with some sides and dinner is sorted.
Kale is not the only brassica going gangbusters in our garden this year. We are finally having some success with cabbage too. Despite only planting the smaller Sugarloaf variety this year, the cabbages all seem to have come to a head (so to speak) at once, so this dish seems to be regularly finding its way onto the dinner table. There are no complaints though. Even The Princess is happy to eat a serve. It could be the threat of no dessert, but I prefer to think it is the crispy nuggets of pancetta hiding amongst the cabbage.
Slowly rendered pancetta adds amazing flavour to a dish, something I discovered earlier this year when trying to diminish the never-ending zucchini supply. I employ a similar technique when cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast; slowly cook the bacon over a low heat, rendering out the fat, and cook the eggs in the lard. The eggs go crispy around the edges and are very, very good. If you are worried about the lard in either the pancetta or the bacon, don’t be. It is not as bad as we have previously been led to believe.
This is a really simple dish that will basically cook itself whilst you are preparing other aspects of your dinner. I sometimes add a crushed garlic clove to the cabbage for a bit of additional flavour, but it is really not necessary. If pancetta is not your thing, cook the cabbage in butter or ghee, saute off a crushed garlic clove and then add the cabbage. Both dishes are very good.
If you have leftovers, add them to mashed potato and make little colcannon cakes. If you have leftovers that is.
Fried Cabbage with Pancetta
If you like, fry a crushed garlic clove off in the rendered lard before adding the cabbage. I
To make this dish vegetarian, omit the pancetta, and fry a garlic clove in ghee or butter before adding the cabbage. Season liberally.
- 100 g pancetta or streaky bacon finely diced.
- 1 small cabbage or 1/2 a large cabbage shredded
- Salt & pepper
- Place a large fry pan over a low heat and add the diced pancetta.
- Cook for about 8 - 10 minutes, until the lard has rendered and the pancetta is crispy.
- Increase the heat to medium and add the cabbage to the fry pan.
- Toss the pancetta through the cabbage, then continue to cook for a further 8 - 10 minutes, until the cabbage has softened.
- Season with pepper, and salt if required.
Recipe NotesI have cooked this dish in advance and just reheated it in the fry pan quite successfully.
Taste the cabbage before you add salt. Some cured meats are saltier than others, and I often find that the salt from the pancetta is sufficient to season the dish.