How to Cook Cabbage in Butter and Water


A nutritious vegetable available in supermarkets year round, cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is a cruciferous plant that belongs to the same plant family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and cauliflower. Although cabbage comes in several shapes and forms, heads of tight, pale green or purple leaves are most common in the United States. Cabbage is suitable for cooking many different ways, but cooking in water and butter is a simple way to prepare this flavorful vegetable.

Things You'll Need

  • Chef's knife or paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Heavy skillet
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Chicken or vegetable broth, apple cider, vinegar or lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Nutmeg (optional)
  • Fork
  • Fried bacon (optional)
  • Soy sauce (optional)
  • Sesame oil (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • Remove the outer leaves from the head of cabbage. Wash the cabbage thoroughly, then cut the head in half through the core.

  • Cut the halves through the core again to make quarters. Lay the quarters on the cutting board with the cut side down, then use a chef's knife or paring knife to cut the core from each quarter.

  • Slice the quarters crosswise to the desired size. You can cut the quarters into chunks or slice them into thin, 1/4-inch shreds.

  • Place a small amount of water in a heavy skillet. Add a large pat of butter and a pinch of salt, then bring the mixture to a full boil. For more flavor, cook the cabbage in chicken or vegetable broth or apple cider, or add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice.

  • Add the cabbage to the boiling mixture, then toss lightly to cover the cabbage with the liquid.

  • Cover the skillet and cook the cabbage on high heat until the cabbage should be tender but still slightly firm. Shredded cabbage may cook in four minutes while large chunks may require six minutes or more. To test for doneness, poke the cabbage with the tip of a paring knife.

  • Remove the skillet from the burner and season the cabbage with salt and freshly ground black pepper or a dash of grated nutmeg. Add an additional spoonful of butter, then toss the cabbage lightly with a fork. This is a good time to add crispy bacon, or create an Asian-style vegetable dish by stirring in small amounts of soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also cook cabbage and butter in the microwave. Using a small amount of water, cook the cabbage on high power for eight to 12 minutes, then let the cabbage stand for three minutes before serving.
  • Be careful not to overcook cabbage, because overcooking is usually responsible for the vegetable's unpleasant odor.
  • A whole head of cabbage stored in an unsealed plastic bag retains its quality in the refrigerator crisper drawer for at least two weeks. Wrap a cut cabbage in plastic wrap and use it within three or four days.

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