Taiwan grows the most expensive cabbages in the world in middle of downtown Taipei on a small plot of land estimated to be worth $150 million. In India, cabbages are an indicator of the rising cost of produce -- caused by profiteering middlemen and retailers. In New York, cabbage is at the end of its harvest this year. And it makes for good 'slaw in B-burg.
For George Weld, the owner of Egg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this means unearthing the last few heads from under the recent snowfall at the restaurant's farm in Oak Hill, N.Y. Weld, who grew up in South Carolina and Virginia, planted cabbage earlier this year with the thought that fresh coleslaw would be a good match with Egg's pulled pork sandwich.
Weld explained to WNYC's Amy Eddings that many cabbage recipes call for the same vinegar-base because it cuts down on the vegetable's more sulfuric qualities. He points to the pickled Southern cabbage mix Chow-chow as an example. Since the winter is not traditionally the time for relish and coleslaw, Egg chef Evan Hanczor devised a method of roasting wedges of cabbage and then searing cross-cut slices. The recipe is below.
Weld, a poet-turned-chef, got into the food business after finding it more widely rewarding than poetry. He surmised that six hours of work in the kitchen, as opposed to the same amount of work on a poem, yielded much more joy. Egg opened five years ago as a breakfast spot operating out of Sparky's, a hot dog joint that has since gone to that big four-top in the sky. Egg has since taken over the former warehouse space full-time, now offering lunch and dinner menus. At the tiny, usually packed restaurant, seated customers peruse small paper displays with the latest news from the eatery's farm. Weld said he began the farm in order to better understand the labor that goes into the produce prepared at the restaurant.
When asked why Egg is worth the often more than an hour-long wait, Weld hesitated, good-naturedly mumbling that he didn't quite know. In the end, he said that Egg's back-to-the-basics attitude about preparing good food — what you would serve yourself or your loved ones — is what keeps the crowds coming back.
Egg's Roasted Cabbage by Evan Hanczor
1 head savoy cabbage
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
Red pepper flakes
1. Cut the cabbage head through the stem into siux wedges. Cut out the stem, leaving each wedge intact, and place the wedges on individual pieces of aluminum foil.
2. Pour one tablespoon each of olive oil and vinegar over each wedge and season with a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
3. Wrap tightly in foil and bake at 350 degrees until the wedges are soft — about 35 minutes.
4. Unwrap the wedges and set them aside to cool.
5. When you are ready to serve them, heat oil or clarified butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Sear the cabbage on two sides until browned, check for seasonings, and serve.
And here's another cabbage recipe: