Can cabbage be cool? Part one: spiced chicken wraps with blue cheese coleslaw

I’ve always mistrusted cabbage. When I was little my parents told me that I should to eat it because it would help me grow big and strong. Or tall. Or give me curly hair. Or straight – whichever was preferred that week. They used all those incentives that parents create to make you eat hateful things. Like mince and potatoes for example. I mean, really, who eats mince and potatoes now? The answer is no-one, because it has been made illegal to serve something so revoltingly brown to anyone, even a minor. Which is progress in my view. And although my parents did everything they could to persuade me to eat it, they were reluctant to eat it themselves. Lets face it, it smells a bit funny and, when boiled to within an inch of its life “a la seventies”, it is frankly horrifying.

But all is not lost for cabbage. All the “new” fashionable cabbages and greens like chard, cavalo nero and kale (which of course are not new at all – they’d just been forgotten) seem to have been adopted by the gastro hoards with great gusto.  And actually they ARE pretty good. With some trepidation, I had a go at lightly sweating some cavalo nero with a lot of garlic and a little olive oil and then roughly blitzing it in the blender with some dried chill flakes and serving it over pasta with some good parmesan. It was really yummy. Feeling bolder, I bought some kale. I shredded it and sauteed it with some garlic and chorizo. Actually it was delicious.

In true Carrie Bradshaw fashion “I got to thinking” perhaps I should re-visit the basic white cabbage of my youth. I thought I’d start with raw cabbage and work up to something cooked…so, a little inspired by Jamie Oliver’s American TV show, I made a blue cheese coleslaw and served it, in a tortilla wrap, with spiced, bread-crumbed chicken pieces. And it was really tasty. I’d say it was good Friday night food – the sort of thing that doesn’t take long to prepare and feels a bit takeaway-ish but is totally fresh and probably a little bit healthier.

Spiced chicken 
– A pack of chicken thighs – usually about 6 in a pack
– 2 tablespoons of plain flour mixed with a generous amount of salt, pepper, cayenne and dried thyme
– Breadcrumbs (not those nasty orange ones in a pack – just make your own by blitzing up some old stale bread in the blender)
– 2 eggs beaten
Take the chicken thighs one by one and sandwich between 2 pieces of cling-film. Beat the chicken thighs with one of those meat-mallet-things (or the bottom of a jam jar – carefully) until substantially thinner. Then cut the thighs into bite sized pieces and cover in the seasoned flour. Heat some oil in a frying pay. Then dip each piece of chicken into the beaten egg, then into the breadcrumbs and then into the frying pan where they will need to fry them on a medium heat for a good 5 minutes turning from time to time and making sure the pieces are cooked through. Do this in batches, keeping them warm on kitchen paper in the oven.

Blue cheese coleslaw
A selection of crunchy seasonal vegetables sliced into similar sized shreds. Use whatever you have to hand but I used:
– Half white cabbage
– Handful of radishes
– 2 carrots
– White onion and a couple of spring onions
– A green pepper I found in the salad drawer which was on the verge of leaving itself
– 3 tablespoons of creme fraiche (low fat is just as good as the full monty)
– 2 teaspoons of mustard
– A supermarket-pack-sized amount of gorgonzola or stilton – roughly chopped
– A few pinches of chopped chives

Mix the cheese, creme fraiche, chives, mustard and a glug of olive oil together to form a thick sauce. Mix with all of the coleslaw ingredients a big bowl – taste and add seasoning if required. Serve a generous scoop of coleslaw in a wrap or tortilla scattered with a few pieces of hot chicken and then rolled into a manageable cigar shape. I think this would be nice with a very cold beer after a long old week.

Flushed with cabbage-eating-success I’ve moved quickly into cooking with it. Stay tuned.


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