Caramelized Cabbage on Creamy Polenta

Either I screwed up royally making this dish, or this recipe was just simply a disaster to begin with. It looked so promising, especially when I have read that baked cabbage can be quite good. From Fine Cooking's CookFresh Winter 2015, the dish was too salty, too tiring, and overall horrible. I'm not even sure if I want to try to make this again, to see if perhaps I made mistakes, but after rereading it, the saltiness from the polenta was just unforgivable. To make it even saltier, I used the suggested Pecorino Romano, and the saltiness level went through the roof.

 Caramelized Cabbage on Creamy Polenta

Caramelized Cabbage on Creamy Polenta

 I burnt the cabbage a little bit, but the heightened saltiness isn't from here. 

I burnt the cabbage a little bit, but the heightened saltiness isn't from here. 

Note that you have to caramelize the cabbage for an hour, checking on it every 5 times, which was exhausting for a dish that came out bad. 

Serves 6-8. 

GATHER:

  • 2 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lb chopped pancetta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 lb green, white or Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
  • About 3 tbsp dry white wine (or water); more if needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A few drops of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup medium-coarse cornmeal, preferably organic stone-ground
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2oz finely grated Asiago or Pecorino Romano

MAKE:

  1. In a wide, deep saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, garlic, and rosemary and sauté until the pancetta and garlic soften, about 4 minutes. Add the cabbage, wine, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp salt, and a few grinds of pepper; toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 1 hour, adding a little more water or white wine whenever the cabbage seems to dry or begins to brown too fast, checking about every 5 minutes (the cabbage should stew slowly and brown lightly). After about 1 hour, uncover and cook, stirring until the cabbage is meltingly tender, lightly caramelized, medium brown, and somewhat dry to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, taste, and adjust the seasonings.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the polenta. Heat the oven to 350. In an oiled 3-qt nonstick ovenproof skillet, combine the cornmeal, 4 cups water, 1 1/2 tsp, and the remaining 1/2 tsp olive oil; stir briefly. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, give the polenta a good stir, and return the pan to the oven to bake another 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and half of the cheese. Pour the polenta into a greased 9-inch heatproof dish, cover evenly with the cabbage, and scatter the remaining cheese on top. Bake until the tips of the cabbage are browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.