Rob Howell’s Charred Hispi Cabbage
With Caesar Dressing, Gem Lettuce and Smoked Pancetta.
Cabbage is another tainted vegetable that has got itself a bad rep, the Hispi cabbage is the sweeter of the cabbages and would recommend using if you are trying to sway any pessimists. This is my take on a warm Caesar salad which is much needed in the winter months. The meat can be removed or if you wish, however this cabbage could be great alongside a steak or pork fillet.
2 Hispi cabbages
1 gem lettuce
20g parmesan to finish
60g grated parmesan
1 large clove of garlic peeled
1 tsp Worcester sauce
1 tsp chardonnay vinegar
200ml neutral oil (vegetable/sunflower)
250g smoked pancetta (skin removed and diced)
1 shallot (peeled and diced)
100ml red wine
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
50ml rapeseed oil
- To make the Caesar dressing place the ingredients into a blender and blitz on a high speed until smooth and combined. Finish with a good pinch of salt. Give it a taste and double check the seasoning.
- To prepare the cabbage remove any larger hard outside leaves and cut in half, if you have a large cabbage cut in quarters. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and have a bowl of iced water ready. Put the cut cabbages into the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes depending on size, making are they are fully submerged. Remove from saucepan and put into ice water. Once chilled drain, pat dry and store until needed. They keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days if you want to get ahead.
- For the pancetta dressing, use a medium sauce pan on a low heat and place the diced pancetta into the pan. Cook on a low heat to let all the fat melt and coat the pancetta in the pan so you don’t need to use any oil. When the pancetta has cooked for about 8 minutes and is starting to colour turn up the heat slightly and add the diced shallots. Cook on the medium heat stirring well until you are left with some lovely juicy crispy pieces of pork. At this point add the red wine and sherry vinegar and reduce. Finish by adding the rapeseed and letting sit, check seasoning and add more if needed.
- Next finish the dish by charring the Hispi cabbages, coating them with a little oil and seasoning before cooking on a hot griddle, char grill or frying pan. Leave to cook on each side for about 6-8 minutes until it is really charred and the outside of the cabbage has almost blackened, this is what brings all the flavour to the dish. Shred the gem and coat in the Caesar dressing.
- Place the half cabbage on the plate and coat in the Caesar dressing, add the gem to it, finish by spooning the pancetta over the cabbage and grating with some extra parmesan.