The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Cabbage, sausage & mushroom ‘cake.’

from Pizza Delivery

Mushrooms

This is like one of those flourless chocolate cakes only to the extent that it includes no flour. Otherwise the two have nothing to do with one another. You will need something like a nine-inch pie plate (nonstick is good) or fancier ovenproof ceramic number of similar shape.


- ½-1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in warm water to cover for at least 20 minutes, squeezed dry until they scream and roughly chopped
- 1 lb sausage removed from the casing
- a Savoy cabbage
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter


Preheat the oven to 350°.

  1. Pull the large outer leaves from the head of cabbage from the stem, carefully, so that they do not tear, then trim the leaves of their thick stalks. Ensure that you have at least 6 biggish leaves.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, submerge the outer leaves and reduce the water to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Immediately remove the leaves, shock them under cold running water, then dry them ruthlessly (but gently so they do not break) with paper toweling.
  4. Meanwhile, core the remainder of the cabbage, quarter it and cook it in the same water until barely tender, about 3 minutes.
  5. Use a colander to shock this cabbage in cold water as well, then press the cabbage to remove as much moisture as possible.
  6. Separate the cooked cabbage into leaves and dry them, too, with paper toweling.
  7. Toss these smaller leaves with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  8. Use 1 Tablespoon of the butter to grease your pie plate or ceramic dish. Pick the most attractive of the big outer leaves and center it in the pan or dish; it should just about cover the bottom of the pan.
  9. Overlap the remaining big leaves all around the pan like a pinwheel so that half of each leaf overhangs the pan.
  10. Spread 1/3 of the smaller, dressed leaves over the bottom of the pan; layer ½ of the sausage over the cabbage; then spread the mushrooms over the sausage.
  11. Layer another 1/3 of the cabbage over the mushrooms followed by the rest of the sausage, then top the sausage with the rest of the dressed cabbage.
  12. Compress the cake with the palm of your hand, then fold the overhanging leaves over the compressed mixture.
  13. Dot the cake with the other Tablespoon of butter.
  14. Bake the cake on a cookie sheet for about an hour, then let it cool for about five minutes.
  15. Use a turkey baster, or carefully tilt the pan and use a ladle to remove the accumulated to a gravy boat or serving bowl. The amount of juice will vary; there may or may not be much.
  16. Invert a plate over the cake and quickly turn it out onto the plate; it should look spectacular.
  17. Cut the cake into wedges for service with the pan juices.


Notes:

-You will want a loaf of crusty bread with this cake.

-Cooling the cake before flipping it out of the pan allows the juices from the sausage to jell a little so that the cake does not fall apart.

-Like parsnips and suet, Savoy cabbage tends to be easier to find in small-town New England than in the New York metropolitan area, welcome (if inconvenient) evidence of persisting variations in regional American foodways.

-Drink an Alsatian Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris (not blanc) or Riesling with this dish; it is robust and the wine need not be expensive.

-In a recipe like this, the quality of the sausage is paramount. Good, ‘sweet’ Italian sausage is ideal; it usually includes fennel in the United States, which adds a nice tone to the dish. If it does not, and you like the flavor, sprinkle about ½ teaspoon bruised fennel seeds over the inner leaves of cabbage with the olive oil at step 7.

-If you get a BDSM charge out of going all skinflint, omit the mushrooms but do not substitute cheaper fresh ones; they throw too much water.

-The Italian sausage sold in supermarkets can be loaded with corn syrup; this addition is unwelcome. You would be better off using the skinless bulk sausage sold frozen by Jones in the shape of a kosher salami; thaw and crumble it to substitute for the Italian sausage. The Jones sausage is seasoned with sage so it will alter the taste of the dish substantially. It will still be good, just different; be sure not to add fennel if you go with the Joneses.

-It seems that even ‘simple’ French preparations require a lot of steps to describe with any clarity, but the recipe is easier than its length might indicate.