It is the season for this vegetable, which tastes best after some days of frost. But Boerenkool is also one of the forgotten vegetables, which had its first popularity with the Egyptians 4000 years ago who knew to appreciate the richness of minerals and vitamins in this vegetable.
From Egypt it made its way north and was earlier a good stable food in German inspired kitchens, such as the southern part of Denmark, where it is still a speciality. But it has lost its prominent place in the North European kitchen and can be difficult to find fresh in the shops. Boerenkool can often be found chopped and frozen, but why not take advantage of the frosty season and buy a fresh boerenkool. I have seen it in Delhaize and in different biological food shops in Bruxelles.
You work your way to the top of the big main stalk and pull of the leaves, leaving the biggest of the stems as they will be too tough to eat. You need to wash the leaves well, as the curly leaves and hide lots of grit.
Young boerenkool can be eaten raw, but I prefer it cooked. But do not cook it for too long. Boerenkool is cooked very quickly, and as for other vegetables the longer you cook the more vitamins and minerals you loose. So one good way of preparation is just to chop the fresh boerenkool and fry it in olive oil on the pan with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
However, as I have described before, what I like with cabbage is the ability of this family of vegetables to take up other tastes and blend it with its own taste of cabbage and end up with some of the most complex and delicious taste combinations imaginable. Inspired by a recipe in the book “Verdens Beste” (the worlds best) by Eyvind Hellstroem – a leading top chef in Norway – in which the French chef Yannick Alleno from Le Meurice in Paris works with Norwegian salmon and boerenkool, I made the boerenkool with bacon, sherry and zest of orange. Leaving it to simmer in its juices. A sublime combination that brought out all the best in the boerenkool.