Ragout with a Cabbage

Hanging Cabbages

Hannah Glass has a receipt called “Or this Way Beans Ragoo’d with a Cabbage. “ If the 17th and 18th century mothers were lucky, they might still have a cabbage hanging in the root cellar now and a few carrots and turnips. The cabbages would be hung from their roots with the large leaves left on. The turnips and carrots would be stuck in sand to stay damp (not wet) so they think they are resting in the ground. This was the common practice of looking ahead and providing fresh produce for one’s family throughout the winter months and into early spring. So, hopefully, you still have something left in the root cellar.

I talked with Ryan Beckman at Old Sturbridge Village to see what they had in the root cellar there. Unfortunately, no cabbage, as they were hit badly with blight last year and are not growing any this year in an effort to thwart it. Ryan said they had just run out of carrots last week and are focusing on the potatoes and the multitude of eggs they are blessed with at the moment. This is the time of year that they interpret the “six weeks of want.” We have cabbage still at our Farm Markets so, here in New Hampshire, we were lucky. And I found a nice small one. The turnips fared well too and the carrots may be a bit on the wilted side yet usable.

Along with my planked fish I needed a vegetable, so this receipt seemed doable, given the coolness of the season. Having no beans yet, I omitted them and decided on fresh spring asparagus. Now this receipt has a lot of steps to it. First you must clean the cabbage and cut the stem side flat so it sits nice on a plate. Then it needs to be par-boiled so it can be pierced with a fork but not fall apart. Hannah has you put the carrots and turnips in the same pot, I did mine separately.

cab 1

When the cabbage was soft, I took it out and cut a cavity in the upper part for the ragout and saved the cone to mix with the other vegetables.  I mashed all the vegetables together with salt and pepper and added a little of the cabbage liquid I had saved.

cab2

The cabbage went back into the pot with a bit of water, wine, vinegar from the pickled mushroom, butter and the mushroom ketchup I had made I made last fall. This was covered and simmered gently. I needed to check on it often to make sure it did not run out of liquid. With the other vegetables mashed, I placed them by the fire to keep warm.

cab 3

Once the fork slid easily through the cabbage it was removed and put on a plate stem side down. The cavity was filled with the ragout’d vegetables, and the asparagus were placed around the plate. The liquid for the last cooking of the cabbage was poured over it and my side dish was complete. I added a little more vinegar, as I like mine tart, and, as a whole, it was tasty and looked very nice on the plate.

 

cab 4I’m really looking forward to using my new root cellar come fall. It is now clean of construction debris and I can start planning the shelves and boxes I’ll need. It will be a fun project.

Sandie

“The cabbage surpasses all other vegetables. If, at a banquet, you wish to dine a lot and enjoy your dinner, then eat as much cabbage as you wish, seasoned with vinegar, before dinner, and likewise after dinner eat some half-dozen leaves. It will make you feel as if you had not eaten, and you can drink as much as you like.”
Cato (234-149 B.C.)

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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

3 thoughts on “Ragout with a Cabbage

  1. Though the carrots are long gone, we just cooked up our last storage cabbage, amazed at how long it’s lasted and newly appreciative of this humble vegetable.

  2. Lovely! Since my hubby and I both like all the vegetables listed, I plan to do this one at home as well as at the hearth.

  3. I am looking forward to seeing in the fall your root cellar filled to the brim. What a great winter you will have.