Thursday, January 7, 2010

Haluski: Pasta and Cabbage United

Unseasonably cold. As a midwesterner by birth and rearing, a little winter in Florida doesn't bother me too much. I still run around in short-sleeved shirts and sandals. But, the chill makes me crave warm, one-pot dishes. Enter Haluski. At the risk of repeating myself, we recently watched an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives that featured this dish. Thumbing through my Christmas gift, More DD&D by Guy Fieri, I found the recipe from the show and Guy's own version: Holy Haluski (p. 75). I opted to make the later, because it included two ingredients I especially love: pancetta and capers. I also used the dish as the chance to use the humongous cabbage I found last week at the farmers' market.

The Method
I made this one by the book. With an almost 8 pound cabbage, I doubled the recipe (below is the single batch). This was nearly too much for my favorite Le Creuset dutch oven; but as the cabbage cooked down I managed to fit everything. 

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound thin-sliced pancetta, diced (I had mine sliced too thinly. Opt for something a little thinner than bacon.)
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 medium head of cabbage, cored and sliced 1/2" thick (I have no idea what a medium head weighs, but I was probably cooking with 3-4 times this amount.)
  • 2 carrots, julienne (Save yourself the hassle and just diced them.)
  • 1 TB fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 8 ounces wide egg noodles (I used the real deal, not the no-yolk style.)
  • 3 TB garlic, minced (Okay, I probably used triple this amount.)
  • 3 TB capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 C peas (I used frozen)
  • 1/4 C white wine
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • Italian parsley to garnish

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil for the noodles.
  2. In a large pot, melt 1 TB butter and fry the pancetta until crisp (12-14 minutes). 
  3. Remove pancetta and drain, reserving the fat.
  4. Add 2 TB pancetta fat to pot along with the remaining butter over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the onions, cabbage, carrots, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the veggies with butter.
  6. Cover and cook until cable is wilted and almost tender, 10 minutes. 
  7. Uncover and cook until the cabbage is very tender, 10 minutes more.
  8. While the cabbage cooks, boil the pasta al dente.
  9. Increase the heat under the pot to high and cook until the cabbage and onions are golden. [Maybe it's my stove - a lack of BTUs - or the moisture content in 8 pounds of cabbage, but it took much longer: almost 40 minutes. I also had to drain off several cups of liquid so that the veggies could sautee and not simply steam.]
  10. Add in the garlic and capers. Cook for 1 minute.
  11. Add the peas.
  12. Deglaze the pan with wine and then add the lemon juice. [I didn't achieve much of a glaze, again, probably due to the veggie volume.]
  13. Add 3/4 of the pancetta (reserve the rest to garnish). Remove from the heat.
  14. Drain the noodles and toss with the cabbage mixture. [It took so long for my cabbage to brown that the noodles were a congealed mass, which I lovingly teased apart with my fingers...okay, not really, I threw them in and stirred until they separated.]
  15. Serve immediately garnished with parsley and pancetta.

The Results
This dish has several things in its favor. It's a great way to prepare cabbage. I suspect it would be passable even among cabbage-doubters or haters. Second, it has a mixture of sweet (onion, cabbage, peas), sour (capers), and salty (pancetta) flavors. Still, the overall dish is mellow. We paired it with a glass (or two) of the remaining wine and an OPO  arugula salad with a sharp, tangy vinaigrette.

Doubling the recipe means that we've eaten only half during three separate meals this week. As good as this was, it's going to take really willpower to eat it three more times. Unfortunately, I think it will freeze poorly; but I may give that a shot. In the end, I should have used half of the monster cabbage to make sarma.

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Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009