This recipe was one of the first I tried to make out of my grandmother Rosalie’s notebooks. Beneath the list of ingredients (it was one of the few that contained instructions), was a note saying, “This can be done with any vegetable.”* Unfortunately, there was no recipe or directions for the white sauce mentioned in the recipe.
I was gifted Rosalie’s Manuel de cuisine by my mother a few years ago. The cookbook was one of the few books she brought with her from her time in Trois-Rivières. The Manuel is more than just a cookbook; it’s a guide on how to stretch a budget, how much nutrition can be garnered from various cuts of meat, and so much more. My mother recalls that her mother often made “une sauce blanche” for dishes: a roux-based white sauce. The white sauce found here is very similar to that found in Rosalie’s Manuel, with a few additions to give it a bit more flavour.
The best kind of cabbage for this recipe is one that will keep its shape when cooked, such as hardy winter white cabbages. Check farmers’ markets or your local grocer for cabbages that are good for pickling as they tend to stand up well to this preparation.
TIP: The great thing about this dish is that you can season your white sauce in all sorts of ways. Traditionally the sauce would be made very plainly, with the nutmeg listed below or summer savoury, but feel free to play around with dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, toasted caraway seeds, or even a small amount of grated hard cheese. Fresh mushrooms sautéed in the butter (before you add the flour) would be great as well.