You may have noticed something else on the plate along with the venison and mushroom stew of my previous post. Because the stew was served with a wine from Piemonte, I wanted to serve a contorno (side dish) from that region along with it. Since savoy cabbage works well with meat, red wine, and spices, I decided to make Sancrau alla Piemontese. This dish, that is also prepared in the neighboring region of Liguria, is savoy cabbage braised with wine vinegar, anchovies, garlic, butter, and olive oil. The ingredients are thus quite similar to another well known dish from Piemonte, bagna cauda. Although I haven’t been able to confirm this, my hunch is that the name “sancrau” is a corruption of the German word “Sauerkraut”. The process is a lot faster though: to make sauerkraut you have to allow cabbage to ferment for weeks, whereas sancrau is made by simply braising the cabbage with wine vinegar. The resulting side dish has a nice flavor that while still recognizable as cabbage, is nicer and fresher than that of regular savoy cabbage. Who would’ve thought something this elegant could be made out of cabbage?
For 4 servings
1 savoy cabbage
4 Tbsp wine vinegar
3 anchovy fillets, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove the outermost leaves of the cabbage and discard them. (There is no need to wash the inner leaves.) Remove the tough central rib of each cabbage leave.
Cut the leaves into strips. You should end up with about 500 grams (1.1 lbs) of cleaned cabbage.
Put a large frying pan or casserole over medium heat, and add 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
(The pan should be large enough to contain the raw cabbage with some room for stirring it.)
When the butter has melted, lower the heat and add 3 minced anchovy fillets and 2 minced garlic cloves.
Stir over low heat until the anchovies have melted. Do not allow the garlic to brown.
Add the cabbage and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Stir until the cabbage is coated with fat.
Add 4 Tbsp wine vinegar and stir.
Cover and cook over low heat, stirring once in a while…
…until the cabbage is tender but still firm to the bite, about 1 hour. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The sancrau is now ready to be served as a side for meat. Apart from venison or beef stew, it is also excellent with pork or sausage.
Loofah is an Asian vegetable that looks like ridged cucumber with many other names, including terroi, sie kwa, Chinese okra, dish cloth gourd, ridged gourd, sponge gourd, vegetable gourd, strainer vine, ribbed loofah, silky gourd, ridged gourd, silk gourd, torai, turai, buap liyam, buap liam. It has a slightly sweet flavor and a crunchy texture on the outside while the inner part is more tender. I stir-fried it with garlic, chili pepper, soy sauce, and fish sauce.