Ham Orientated Cavolo Nero

“This improved form of cabbage is welcomed by many who have hitherto looked with hostility on its homely virtue”

-Agnes Jekyll, Kitchen Essays


This way of cooking cavolo nero goes very well with cold ham– especially if you have cooked the ham yourself and are using the reserved stock – like the underpainting of a picture you’ll bring the whole dish together. It also goes quite well with sausages which include a little apple.

I got the idea for this dish from Magnus Nilsson’s Nordic Cookbook. He uses kale which is, in my view, an awful vegetable. There’s only one thing to do with kale and that is to make it into crisps. Cavolo nero is now widely available (they’ve even been able to start growing it in Lincolnshire) so don’t be tempted to substitute it with anything else.


Recipe for ham-orientated cavolo nero

Serves 2-4 as an accompaniment


  • 600g cav/1 lb 5 oz cavolo nero
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 240 ml/1 cup double cream
  • 300 ml/1¼ cups ham stock (if you don’t happen to have any use chicken stock – it won’t be as salty so you may need to add a little more salt at the end of the cooking process)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Walnut of butter
  • Spanish smoked bitter-sweet paprika


  1. Prepare the cavolo nero, stripping it of its thick stem and any other thick, tough bits with care. Shred with a knife.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan melt the butter and stir in the sugar.
  3. Add the cavolo nero, stir to coat with the butter-sugar mix and fry gently for about ten minutes until it’s soft.
  4. Add the cream, the mustard, and about half a cup of the stock and begin to simmer gently for about half an hour, adding a bit more of the stock every ten minutes or so.


cavolo nero with cream


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