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Cabbage Loaf Recipe

The fun thing about my Gourmet 10/76 project is the reaction that I get from my team when they come into the studio and ask me what I’m making today. Since I started making these 70s recipes, initial reactions have been somewhat, uh, skeptical. None more than the ones that I received when I announced that the next recipe I was attempting was Cabbage Loaf. My studio director sent me a gif of someone dry heaving and another of my colleagues visibly shuddered. I guess people have a bad reaction to the term “loaf” when paired with anything other than “meat”.

If I’m being fair, I too was feeling a little skeptical about this one, although I was reacting to the first step which is to boil two pounds of cabbage for 30 minutes. As a modern cook I’ve learned that boiling vegetables and discarding the liquid afterwards is basically how you remove flavor and all nutritional value. The recipe gets even weirder because after you’ve boiled the hell out of the cabbage, you reconstitute it with cold water, then wring out the water in a kitchen towel, which essentially turns the cabbage into a stringy mush, which you then finely chop before adding into the recipe.

Predictions of nausea and intestinal distress did not come true. The end result was quite good, if a bit bland. The cabbage flavor was very mild, and it almost seemed as though the intent was, perhaps, to stretch a couple of eggs and milk into a full meal. Since it basically had nothing as far as an acid profile, some hot sauce was a nice addition along with a little kale salad on the side. To say it exceeded expectations is an understatement.

Cabbage Loaf Recipe

It's a loaf. And it's made of cabbage.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs white cabbage quartered
  • 8-9 slices bacon
  • cup flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp butter melted
  • cup milk

Instructions

  • Fill a large pot of salted water to boil. Core and quarter the cabbage and boil until very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain in a colander then refresh the cabbage with cold water. Finely chop the cabbage and squeeze out the excess moisture in a tea towel. 
  • Place bacon in a cold skillet and then cook over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a plate covered in paper towels to drain. Once cool, crumble the bacon and set aside. Reserve bacon fat for other uses (see note).
  • Combine flour, salt, baking powder and white pepper in a bowl, then add the eggs and butter. Stir in the milk a little at a time and stir until the mixture is smooth. Let stand for 30 minutes. While mixture is standing, preheat oven to 400ºF.
  • Add cabbage and bacon to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add completed mixture to a 8.5×4.5×2.5 loaf pan that has been lined with buttered parchment or wax paper. Bake for 55 minutes or until the top is golden.

Notes

Save your leftover bacon fat and use it instead of oil or butter when sautéing other dishes, or toss it potatoes before roasting.
This recipe was adapted from the October 1976 issue of Gourmet Magazine and is part of my Gourmet 10/76 Project. Click here to read more!

After Action Report

Would I make this one again? Eh, probably not, at least not in it’s current form. I actually really enjoy the taste of cabbage and boiling the hell out of the cabbage put all the flavor and nutrition into the water which was discarded. Bacon and hot sauce was the only saving grace here. On the plus side, it tasted fine the day after and was a good lunch to bring to work, as it was just as good at room temp as it was hot.

Bottom line, I think that if I’m going to make a vegetable-based loaf I might as well go with something that has more flavor, more nutritional value, and is actually vegetarian while I’m at it. Otherwise I might as well just make a classic meatloaf.

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