Nebraska Creamed Cabbage

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            It was a sad day in 2000, when Ulbrick’s closed its doors for good. This former gas station in Nebraska City had been the place people all along the Iowa-Nebraska border went for dinners of lard-fried chicken and an array of amazing vegetables. Among the stand-out side dishes was creamed cabbage, which also can be the foundation of a one-dish meal by adding such ingredients as ham, kielbasa, or leftover shreds of just about any well-spiced meat.

5 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cup hot milk

1-1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard

pinch of cayenne pepper

salt and pepper

1 2-pound head white cabbage, trimmed of outer leaves

1 cup dry bread crumbs

            In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour, stirring constantly, as the sauce bubbles and cooks for about 2 minutes. Do not let it brown. Stir in hot milk, continuing to stir as sauce thickens. Bring to boil. Add mustard, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat and cook, stirring constantly, 3 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Cut cabbage into 8 wedges. Cook in boiling water 8 minutes, until tender. Drain and trim away any tough outside parts that remain. Chop the cabbage coarsely and mix with the sauce. Place it in a buttered 2-quart casserole. Top with bread crumbs and dot the top with tiny pinches of the remaining butter.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake casserole 20 minutes.

Serves 6-8

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