Appalachian Cabbage and Bacon Pudding

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    4 to 6

    servings

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

It’s said that the vast cabbage fields found along the Appalachian borders of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee were started by the region’s original Scotch Irish settlers, but it took the modern-day culinary pioneer Bill Neal, owner/chef of Crook’s Corner restaurant in Carrboro, North Carolina, to unearth this ancient pudding up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and transform it into a sublime, rather elegant custard that is served in slices. Bill used streak-o’-lean (lean salt pork) in his pudding, but craving a more smoky flavor, I’ve substituted slab bacon. Served with country ham biscuits, the pudding makes an unusual and delicious cold-weather luncheon dish, but since it’s so attractive unmolded on a platter, it’s also perfect for the more formal buffet table.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of cabbage (about 2 pounds)
  • quarts water
  • 2 ounces slab bacon
  • 1 dried red pepper pod
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup small bread cubes
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • ¼ cup fine white bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Remove and discard any outer blemished leaves of the cabbage, cut the head into quarters, and cut out the hard core. Pour the water into a large pot, add the bacon and the pepper pod, and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage quarters, boil 15 minutes, refresh under cold water, and drain, discarding the pepper pod and reserving the bacon. Chop the cabbage roughly, squeeze it with your hands to remove all excess moisture, and reserve in a large bowl.

In a bowl, combine the milk, eggs, salt, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, and black pepper, whisk till well blended, and pour over the cabbage. Dice the cooked bacon, combine in a small bowl with the bread cubes and thyme, and toss.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of a buttered -quart soufflé dish or casserole, spread the cabbage mixture evenly over the dish, and top with the bacon-and–bread cube mixture. Drizzle the melted butter over the top and bake till the custard is set, about 50 minutes.

To serve, invert the pudding onto a platter and cut into rough slices. Serve hot.