Buttered Cabbage with Orange Syrup – Gerard Phelan – Dani Valent

Turn a humble cabbage into a hero

This stunning cabbage dish is a great shared side for dinner parties or barbecues and makes a very satisfying vegetarian meal all by itself.

I first ate it at Montalto, a winery restaurant on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, overlooking the vines on a gorgeous sunny day. I’d just been shown around the kitchen garden by chef Gerard Phelan and he explained that the plots near the restaurant and cellar door were just the beginning! Over yonder, larger garden beds supply the restaurant with almost all its produce – including the cabbage for this dish.

And, in the kitchen, a blackboard lists all the fruit and veg ready to be picked and plucked for the chefs to design the day’s dishes. Apart from a trusty Thermomix, everything in the kitchen is cooked over fire. There’s not a gas outlet or hotplate to be seen! Consequently, there’s an honesty and directness to the food that I really appreciate.

Enjoy this dish with a pale ale or crisp white wine such as a pinot gris or cool-climate chardonnay.

Serves: 2-4 as part of a shared spread 
Time: approx. 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 ridiculous amount of butter (see Tips)
  • 1 whole young cabbage, outer leaves removed (see Tips)
  • 500 grams (17 oz) orange juice (see Tips)
  • 20 grams (0.7 oz) raw sugar (see Tips)
  • 100 grams (3.5 oz) unsalted macadamias (see Variations)
  • 50-70 grams (1.5 oz-2.5 oz) stracciatella (see Tips)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh dill leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Melt butter over medium heat in a pot that will snugly hold the cabbage. Add the cabbage and cover with a lid. Cook over low heat, adjusting from time to time; you want a little bubbling but not a fierce boil.

2. Place orange juice and sugar into a small pot and reduce over high heat. Or, in a Thermomix, cook 35 min/Varoma/speed 2, MC off. Whether it’s pot or Thermomix, cook until the juice has reduced to the consistency of gravy, thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. See Tips.

3. Place macadamias on a roasting tray and roast for 6 minutes. Toss them and roast a further 6 minutes to golden brown. Remove and turn oven up to 190°C (375°F).

4. Cook the cabbage until you can poke a skewer through easily, with the slightest resistance. Depending on your cabbage this will take between 30 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes.

5. Removed cooked cabbage from butter, cut it in half down the core, season it with salt and place it face down in a hot griddle pan or on a barbecue. Once it is dark and almost burnt, put the cabbage halves onto an oven tray and bake for 5 minutes to get colour on the outer leaves. See Tips.

To assemble, remove cabbage from oven and drizzle cut side with some of the orange glaze, letting it soak in.

Top with macadamias, stracciatella and chopped dill, then drizzle more orange glaze on top. Serve warm.


  • Don’t you love chefs! The ‘ridiculous’ quantity of butter that Gerard uses actually covers the whole cabbage. I have butter to a depth of about 2 cm (1 in).
  • You can use cut portions of larger cabbages too. Choose a pot which holds your cabbage snugly and turn it every 10 minutes or so to cook it evenly.
  • If using cut cabbages, you may find that you can skip step 5 because the cabbage will already be nicely coloured on all sides from its time in the butter pot.
  • Use good quality orange juice, freshly-squeezed and strained, if possible. Gerard sometimes adds a dash of rice wine vinegar to round it out and give it another dimension.
  • Use sugar of choice, eg coconut sugar or maple sugar, or omit sugar altogether.
  • Stracciatella is a fresh, milky, white cheese. You can also use bocconcini, fresh mozzarella, or Greek yoghurt.


  • Use hazelnuts instead of macadamias if desired, Rub their skins off after roasting.

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