One of my favorite memories from elementary school was taking French classes. We went to a private school and we did French every week. It was mostly puppets and flash cards and LOTS of singing. One of the songs we sang was “Savez-vous planter les chous?” (that means “Do you know how to plant the cabbages?”) and was meant to help you learn body parts. The French also refer to chou as sweetheart (Ma petite chou literally means “my little cabbage”, but figuratively means “my sweetie”). All that to say, I love chou – it has a special place in my heart!! I love cabbage, but chou is even better 🙂
I was trying to come up with what to do with my cabbages from the CSA box and since I can’t really chew much right now, this was the perfect fit! The original recipe kind of stunk and I ended up having to really improvise as I went along, but I wrote it all down and will hopefully not lead you astray!! The flavor of the sauce is what really wins this dish. Mixing it all up after it goes on your plate = HEAVEN! Oh and the original recipe said serves 6, but I can only assume that’s as a main dish. I say 8-10 as a side. Great with roasted chicken!
Gratin Au Chou
Yield: 8-10 servings (as a side)
Source: Adapted from an online recipe
1 medium Savoy cabbage (or a small Savoy and a small green cabbage is what I did…)
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 pound very ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cups water
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used skim, but use whatever pleases you!)
1/2 pound grated cheese (Gruyère or Swiss)
salt and pepper
Cut the cabbage in quarters, wash well, and cut out the hard inner core. Chop the leaves and cook the cabbage for 10 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. You want it to be soft but not dead. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook for five minutes. Add the rice and cook for two minutes, stirring. Add the chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is just tender, adding up to 1 cup more water as needed. You want your rice to be soft but not soupy…
Meanwhile make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan and stirring in the flour. Cook the roux for two minutes and than slowly whisk in milk. Heat on medium heat until nearly boiling and thickened, then gradually add half of the cheese while stirring. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper (I used 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper). Oh and if you’re like me and can’t read directions properly and you just added ALL of the cheese, no worries. It will still be yummy!
To construct casserole, butter a large baking dish. Beginning with the cabbage, layer the cabbage and the rice mixture. Aim to get three even layers of each. Pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Serve the cabbage casserole hot.