Recipe: Creamy Cabbage Gratin with Bacon and Mushrooms

Recipe: Creamy Cabbage Gratin with Bacon and Mushrooms

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Sheri Castle
Feb 20, 2018
(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

This is what happens when an old-fashioned country recipe called scalloped cabbage gets dolled up and heads into town for a dinner party. It elevates cabbage into elegance with a creamy Gruyère sauce and a tumble of sautéed mushrooms.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

The Gruyère and bacon add flavor, of course, but cabbage still reigns in this dish. Should you prefer to keep this meatless, all is not lost — simply omit the bacon and replace the bacon fat in the béchamel sauce with butter.

Walnuts might seem like a curious addition here, but their nuttiness echoes the nuttiness in the cheese and adds a delightful crunch to this rich dish.

Creamy Cabbage Gratin with Bacon and Mushrooms

Serves 8

  • Cooking spray or butter

  • 6 ounces

    bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips

  • 8 ounces

    fresh wild mushrooms or cremini mushrooms, chopped if large

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 1

    large cabbage (about 3 pounds), cored and coarsely chopped, or 16 cups shredded cabbage

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups

    whole milk, warmed

  • 2 cups

    grated Gruyère cheese (about 4 ounces), divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon

    dry mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 2 ounces

    walnut pieces (1/2 cup)

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Butter or coat a 2 1/2-quart gratin or shallow baking dish (like a 9-inch square) with cooking spray; set aside.

Place the bacon in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp and the fat is rendered, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a large bowl. Pour all but 1 teaspoon of the fat into a small heatproof bowl; set the bacon fat aside.

Add the mushrooms to the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon.

Add 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat to the pot. Add the onion and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. If the onions begin to stick or scorch, add a splash of water to the pot and stir to loosen the browned bits and mushroom residue from the bottom of the pot.

Add the cabbage in batches, stirring after each batch until starting to wilt before adding more. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick or scorch, add a splash of water and stir well. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook to remove the raw flour taste, whisking slowly and continuously, about 2 minutes. This roux will bubble and thicken, and might darken one shade, but do not let it scorch. Whisk in the warm milk until smooth. Cook, stirring slowly and continuously with a rubber spatula, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the Gruyère, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne. Stir until the cheese melts. Stir in the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Transfer the mixture into the pot of cabbage and stir until coated.

Transfer the cabbage mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of Gruyère over the top. Bake until golden-brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle with the walnuts and parsley for a little crunch and color. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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