Amanda Hesser's Tomato and Bread Soup
City of Light

Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Mustard Bread Crumbs


It's sort of difficult to see what's going on under that crispy brown crust, but let me tell you that this unassuming dish was the highlight of a gathering I had for friends last weekend. As one of my friends pointed out, it wasn't the kind of recipe that makes your eyes light up at first read, but the taste was really sensational. And it was, surprisingly, very fast to prepare. The leftovers were good, too (and that's coming from me, who finds most leftovers, no matter how delicious they were the day you made the dish, to be totally repulsive. I know, weird.).

To round out the meatloaf dinner, I came across a recipe that was published in the NY Times almost three years ago, for a cabbage and potato gratin. I don't know what article it accompanied (a lot of my clippings are just that - the recipes cut out with no context, which is annoying when I'm writing about them, but hopefully you'll forgive and move on). For a group dinner, it's a great dish. It feeds a lot of people, and is really hearty and tasty - good cold-weather food. I don't usually cook with butter, cream and bacon, so I was glad to see that the huge amount of cabbage really means the casserole doesn't end up being too greasy.

First, I cooked some chopped bacon in a pan,
then added onions and cubed potatoes and the seasonings, and let those cook down a bit. I sliced and diced my way through an entire head of green cabbage (and just eyeballed the right amount) and added that to the pan to wilt a bit.
The contents of the pan were then dumped into a baking dish, and I poured some cream into the hot pan to reduce a bit and get some of the scrummy browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
When the cream had reduced, I poured it evenly over the cabbage and put the pan, covered with foil, in the oven. Into the empty pan went then some butter, and then breadcrumbs (I used panko because they end up being a bit crispier). When the crumbs were toasty and golden, I added mustard, salt, pepper, chopped parsley and garlic.
I grated some Gruyere onto the cabbage, sprinkled that with the breadcrumbs and put the whole thing back into the oven, uncovered this time, until it bubbled and browned.

A programming note: I realize that the posts this week have been all-NY-Times-all-the-time and I promise to rectify the imbalance very soon...