There are several cookbooks on my shelf, not necessarily bestsellers, which I consult again and again for inspiration and just plain good recipes. They assume a certain status after I’ve cooked over a dozen successful recipes from their pages. Among those is a volume dating from the mid-90s entitled Cooking Provence, Four Generations of Recipes and Traditions, written by celebrity chef Antoine Bouterin and Joan Schwartz.
I annotate my cookbooks, so they acquire a layer of personal information, tips, notes, and comments. In this case, over many years, I have cut ingredients, changed proportions, altered the sequence of cooking and so on, but the basic tastes have endured. It’s still one of my favorite dishes during a transition season. Still, his title “Petite Potée Provençale au Chou,” is more picturesque than mine.
By adding sausage (I used a lean chicken garlic sausage this time), it is a filling and flavorful meal. Though I typically make it with homemade chicken stock, it can probably be vegetarian by using vegetable stock and/or the juice from a can of tomatoes. I usually make this in the fall with fresh tomatoes, but it works equally well with canned. By adding more or less liquid, this can be a soup or a braise.
I like how the layers go together: a bed of sautéed onions, a layer of cabbage wedges, a sprinkling of celery, leeks, herbs and spices, embedded tomatoes and lemon quarters, topped with lemon- and honey-flavored broth. It’s then cooked gently in the oven or on the top of the stove, with potatoes and optional sausage added partway through. It’s a great make-ahead dish to boot.
Layered Cabbage Stew inspired by Antoine Bouterin (serves 4 with leftovers)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 2-inch wedges (8ths)
2 leeks, white and tender green parts, cut in 2-inch lengths and quartered
2 stalks celery, but into 2-inch matchsticks
8 juniper berries
8 allspice berries
8 black peppercorns
Pinch of fennel seeds
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
4 fresh or canned plum tomatoes, halved
1 lemon, juiced and then quartered
4 cups homemade chicken stock (or more for soup version)
1 tsp honey
4 small potatoes, halved or quartered (or 8 depending on size)
4 sausages, precooked
Chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large ovenproof pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir. Remove from heat. Add the cabbage wedges, then strew the leeks, celery, herbs and prices and the tomatoes on top. Squeeze the lemon and add the quartered hulls to the pot. Combine the chicken stock and honey and pour over the mixture. It does not have to cover the vegetables, as they will release liquid. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, cover the pot with foil to make a tight seal and then place the lid on top. Place in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Add the potatoes, re-seal the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Serve in a soup bowl with sausage, pour the broth on top and garnish with parsley.