Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) .iiij. Caboges - Braised Cabbage

Braised Cabbage and Rastons

A humble dish of cabbage.  I was surprised by this recipe for "caboges"--who could have expected tender bits of cabbage, braised in flavorful gravy thickened with breadcrumbs and scented with saffron to be noble. The method of first boiling the cabbage to remove it's bitter properties, and then cooking it again in the broth made with marrowbones may seem to a bit redundant, but I urge you to try it.  Sworn cabbage haters tried it, and wanted more.  Success!

This is one of the first several recipes from Harleian MS 279, all of which feature "wortys" I tried this recipe first.  It is inexpensive to make.  I did take the extra step of making my own stock using roasted marrow bones. The well written and easy to follow instructions can be found at "The Cooking Geek" blog. I have to confess, I had my doubts when I smelled the bones cooking. It is not the most pleasant scent to me.  I almost wimped out when it came to eating a bit of the boiled marrow once the stock was completed.  I'm so glad I did.  Imagine, a succulent steak set before you, with crispy fat around the edge that has been chargrilled.  That is what the marrow tasted like...it's the food worlds best kept secret. Shhhhhhh! 

.iiij. Caboges.—Take fayre caboges, an cutte hem, an pike hem clene and clene washe hem, an parboyle hem in fayre water, an þanne presse hem on a fayre bord; an þan choppe hem, and caste hem in a faire pot with goode freysshe broth, an wyth mery-bonys, and let it boyle: þanne grate fayre brede and caste þer-to, an caste þer-to Safron an salt; or ellys take gode grwel y-mad of freys flesshe, y-draw þorw a straynour, and caste þer-to. An whan þou seruyst yt inne, knocke owt þe marw of þe bonys, an ley þe marwe .ij. gobettys or .iij. in a dysshe, as þe semyth best, & serue forth.

3. Cabbages - Take fair cabbages, an cut them, an pick them clean, and clean wash them, an parboil them in fair water, an than press them on a fair board, an than chop them, and cast them in a fair pot with good fresh broth, an with marrowbones, and let it boil; then take grated fair bread and caste there-to, an caste there-to saffron and salt; or else take good gruel made of fresh flesh, draw through a strainer, and caste there-to. An when you serve it in, knock out the marrow of the bones, and lay the marrow, two pieces, or three, in a dish as it seem best, and serve forth.

Interpreted Recipe

Humble ingredients = Noble soup
Serves 1 as a main dish, 2 if you are using it as a side              

1/8th green cabbage cut into chunks
1 cup beef broth
Marrow saved from making stock (to say this is an option is a crime...if you made the stock...use the marrow...trust me on this!)
3 tbs. grated bread (I grated Rastons that I made and divided into quarter, which made a roll the size of a hamburger bun) 
Salt to taste
Pinch of Saffron (opt.)

Following the directions above boil your cabbage in water until it starts to become tender.  This allows the cabbage to release any bitterness it might have.  This took approximately ten minutes.  Strain the cabbage, and dry it with a towel (you don't want to water down your stock do you?).  You will be surprised how much water it holds!

Meanwhile slowly heat your broth with the saffron.  When the broth has heated and colored to your desire,  return your cabbage to it, and let it cook until desired tenderness.  This time will vary because it depends on how you like your cabbage. I like a bit of a bite, so I only boiled it for about five more minutes.  

Broth thickened with bread crumbs
Once the cabbage has reached your preference, slowly add the breadcrumbs a tablespoon at a time.  Allow the crumbs to dissolve into the broth before adding the next bit. Otherwise the crumbs clump together and instead of smooth gravy it will be chunky and no amount of boiling will remove the chunks.  Trust me. 

The broth will thicken into gravy.  Once it has thickened you can remove it and place it into a bowl.  If you are using the marrow, you can add it at this time, the broth is boiling hot, so the marrow will heat through.  You want to see it on the top of the dish. 

If you are wondering, I did take the extra step to render the fat that I skimmed off the stock into tallow, another treasure shared on "The Cooking Geek" blog.