Monday, 11 January 2016

Bake for Good

Verza al Forno con Carne Macinata & Patate
Savoy Cabbage with Ground Meat & Potatoes

Not particularly pretty, but quite particularly delicious, this simple combination of savoy cabbage and ground beef, topped by crispy, grated potato is a great comfort-food dish that can be whipped up in an hours time... which is not too long to wait for a great meal now, is it?

Cabbage and ground meat almost always taste wonderful together... I guess it's "just one of those things"- which is of course, why I had to create some kind of different version of that "thing"- that's what I do after all!

This is a kind of hybrid cottage pie with an integrated portion of greens- not on the side, but underneath... and instead of boiling and mashing the potatoes, I grated them... for me, it's all about using those ingredients that we know we love in a new way.

So, for my little 2-portion casserole, I needed 1/2 of a medium sized savoy cabbage, 250g of ground beaf and pork, 1 shallot, 5-6 cherry tomatoes, 2 small potatoes, fennel seeds, fresh parsley, nutmeg, salt, pepper and olive oil. Nice, simple, straightforward ingredients.

Like I said... it tasted better than it looked! But at the same time... I think it looked pretty good to be honest! Especially after a long, hard day at the office!

To prepare the cabbage, I cut away the trunk and then sliced it up finely, rinsed it off and then popped it into the saucepan without shaking off the water- that residual moisture was all that was needed to cook it. I added salt, pepper and nutmeg, a dash of olive oil, gave it a stir, brought the temperature up to sizzling and then put on the lid for it to steam. After 2-3 minutes, I lowered the heat, stirred it through and then let it continue steaming whilst I prepared the meat.

I fried the ground meat together with the finely chopped shallot, the chopped-up stalks of the parsley and about a teaspoon of fennel seeds. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and fried it until the meat was nice and brown.

Once the meat had turned brown, I added the chopped tomatoes and parsley and continued stirring and frying until the tomatoes had softened considerably, then added enough water to cover the base of the pan and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

And by that time, everything had cooked down nicely and was ready for layering with the cabbage... so- time to turn that oven up, hot!

By this time, after around 15-20 minutes of simmering, the cabbage is soft and tender and having not been boiled in loads of water, is packed with it's great, sweet flavor.

Add a little oil before spreading it out at the bottom of your baking dish, for flavor, but also so that it will brown rather than burn in the oven.

Now, simply spoon the ground meat and tomato mixture on top nice and evenly.

The potatoes were simply grated, seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg, drizzled with olive oil and then spread evenly on top. I then covered my dish with foil and baked it for 15 minutes at 210°C, for the meat and cabbage to come up to temperature and for the potatoes to steam.

After that time, I removed the foil and continued baking until the potatoes turned nicely golden brown.

And by the time it was done, it smelled absolutely delicious... and I couldn't wait to serve myself up a nice, hot portion of goodness- and then another one!

Don't worry- this is just a dainty little serving for my photos... but I ate the lot of course!

And actually, it didn't look bad at all!

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