Savoy Cabbage with Pancetta and Creme Fraiche


When I was working in the City I had a supper that I enjoyed with almost obsessive regularity.  There are two reasons for this.  Firstly as I got up at 5.30am to get to work, there were no slow braises for me in the evening and secondly it had to be easy to shop for.  These days I think nothing of a wander around the shops, market and farmstall seeing what is in season and looks good.  Those days I was a single gal enjoying London and perusing the supermarket shelves at a weekend was just not happening.  A savoy cabbage which cuts neatly into 4;  those little duo packs of pancetta that have the perfect amount in each half, a large pot of creme fraiche and a good bunch of parsley were all I needed.  So you see, a short and snappy shopping list and I was set for a weeks worth of suppers.

Did I mind having the same thing every night?  No, not only for all the reasons above but mainly because it is so exceptionally delicious.  This dish has come back into play because adding a little bacon/pancetta, chorizo or similar often helps with my brassica phobic daughter and this is no exception.  Whilst she is still of course aware there is cabbage lurking in this dish, its inherent bitter edge is offset by the creme fraiche, salty savoury pancetta and the generous hit of parsley.

You can serve this with a stew (we had it yesterday with a pot roast of local silverside – heaven), it is perfect with a roast chicken and also works an absolute treat  with a piece of white fish.  Or do what I did all those years ago, enjoy it in solitary splendour (the cabbage that is, not you) it is a highly satisfying one pot supper.

Savoy Cabbage with Pancetta and Creme Fraiche

You can of course use smoky bacon, it is a matter of history that I use those little packs of pancetta although I have on occasion used a piece of pancetta when I can get hold of it.  The nutmeg adds a delicious note of its own making this taste rather like Carbonara with cabbage as my son described it.

65g (or thereabouts) chopped pancetta or bacon

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 small (or quarter of a large) savoy cabbage, chopped

1 tablespoon creme fraiche

1/2 small pack parsley, chopped

A little grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a pan with the pancetta and cook done but not quite crispy.  Add the chopped cabbage and give it a good stir and let it begin to wilt.  Put a tablespoon of water into the pan, stir and put a lid on for 2 minutes.  Remove the lid, give it a good stir getting any bits of pancetta off the bottom, add the creme fraiche and a grating of nutmeg and black pepper.  You may need a little salt but taste it first as pancetta is salty.  Finally stir in the parsley and serve.  This is enough for 1 or two as a side but, clearly, easily doubled or tripled.