When it comes to food, I am pretty carnivorous. The other night, I had a rope of smoked sausage waiting for supper. Since smoked sausage takes hardly any preparation, I decided it would be a good night to focus on creating a really nice side dish. My kitchen was full of cabbage and potatoes, as I had over thought the whole thing when shopping for my corned beef and cabbage meal, buying twice the amount of provisions needed. Chopping and slicing and sauteing, I set out to make a casserole-y, gratin-y side dish while “using it up.” Waste not, want not, right!? What I ended up with was something that could be served as a completely vegetarian main dish, completely fulfilling, even to this meat eater. I was pretty impressed.
Potato and Cabbage Gratin
1 stick butter
1 head cabbage, thinly sliced
1 1/2 lbs potato ( I used red skinned potatoes)
2 cups celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp fresh sage
1 clove garlic
2 1/2 cups milk
3 TBSP + 1 tsp flour
nutmeg to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cheese (I used a mixture of Swiss and Cheddar)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
The first step is to make a béchamel sauce. Put a saucepan over medium heat. Wait for it to come to temperature then add 6 TBsp of the butter and wait for it to melt. If it begins to spit or bubble, nudge the heat down. We want the butter to melt smoothly not brown or burn. Add the flour, and stir continuously for 3 minutes. You don’t want it to sit still or it will brown. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5 – 8 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.
Put a saute pan or skillet over medium heat and melt 2 TBsp of the butter, then add the onions, celery and garlic, and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the sage and the chopped cabbage. Saute for about 10 minutes. Then add the cabbage to the béchamel sauce and simmer for 10 minutes, until it thickens while still maintaining some fluidity. If it gets too thick. thin it out by mixing in a dash of milk or water. Salt and pepper it to taste.
Assemble by putting a layer of potatoes (roughly half) and then a layer of half of the cabbage / béchamel sauce. Repeat the same process for a second layer. Top with the cheese. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for ANOTHER 20 minutes so that it browns nicely on top. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving to allow it to solidify and cool down. Enjoy!