Winter is most certainly here and we’ve decided to embrace the cold. We asked two chefs – Matt McConnell of Bar Lourinhã and Casa Ciuccio in Melbourne and Mitch Orr of Buzo Trattoria in Sydney’s Woollhara – about their favourite winter ingredient and they’ve given us three recipes that celebrate it.

These are simple, approachable recipes. Have a happy, cosy (and delicious) winter!

Matt McConnell: Cabbage

The humble cabbage doesn’t need to be a plain experience. With a little embellishment, it can be raised from pauper to star of the winter table. Savoy and sugar loaf are always available at the market and there are also a number of Asian varieties. The coarse structure of the cabbage leaves makes it versatile and open to many different cooking styles. Add any form of pork to it and you have yourself a winning combination.

Recipe One: Shaved Cabbage, Mint & Labneh

This recipe has been a Bar Lourinhã staple for the past five years. It’s simplicity requires fine knife skills and a soft touch with the dressing and tossing of the ingredients.

Serves six

1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 pinch sugar salt & pepper
¼ fennel bulb finely sliced
¼ cup mint leaves
¼ cup parsley leaves
¼ cup dill leaves
1 lemon, juice only
olive oil
2 tbsp labneh

Place all ingredients in a bowl, toss lightly. Spread the labneh over the base of the serving dish and cover with the cabbage salad.

Recipe Two: Ham Hock & Cabbage Soup
The easiest of one pot wonders. Smoked ham hocks are widely available and are perfect with cabbage.

Serves six

1 smoked ham hock (approximately 800g)
4 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
4 shallots, peeled and halved
¼ cinnamon stick
salt and pepper
1 small savoy cabbage
¼ bunch parsley, roughly chopped
crème fraiche


In a stockpot, place the smoked ham hock, garlic cloves, bay leaf, shallots, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper, and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the meat is starting to fall from the bone.

Remove the hock and shred all the meat. Skim the remaining stock and add the roughly chopped cabbage and parsley until just soft. Return the meat to the soup, check the seasoning and serve in a bowl with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkle of grated nutmeg.

Recipe Three: Steamed Sugar Loaf Cabbage & Anchovy Sauce

This simple recipe is an adaptation from an Italian-Australian market farmer who specialises in growing young cabbages and sells them at the wholesale market.

Serves six

salt and pepper
1 lemon, zest only
100ml olive oil
50g butter
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1 tbsp thyme leaves
6 large anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
1/4 cup caper berries, sliced
¼ cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Place the cabbage in a steamer, season and top with lemon zest. Cook until just starting to soften.

In a pot, heat the olive oil, butter, garlic, thyme, anchovy and caper berries until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and pour over the cabbages on a serving platter.

Mitch Orr: Mussels

I chose mussels as they are stunning at the moment; plump, heavy, sweet and tasty. They are probably still a little overlooked or seen as hard to cook by many, but Kinkawooka mussels come already cleaned and de-bearded, saving time for the home cook. As well as being tasty and cheap, mussels are really versatile – they can be used as the centrepiece of a dish or as a garnish and highlight. They are a great way to add some salinity and punch to a dish.

Recipe One: Zuppa di Cozze & Gremolata

Serves four

1kg mussels
1 head fennel
150ml vermouth
100ml dry white wine
100ml single cream
1 bunch flat leaf parsley (picked, washed and coarsely chopped)
1 grated zest of an untreated lemon
4 cloves coarsely chopped garlic olive oil

Scrub and de-beard the mussels under cold running water, drain well. Dice the fennel bulb and one of the cloves of garlic into evenly sized pieces and cook slowly without colouring in olive oil. Add the mussels and increase the heat under the pot.

Add the vermouth, dry white wine and shake vigorously, as the mussels begin to open, add the cream and continue cooking.

Divide the open mussels between 4 warm soup bowls, adjust the broth with salt and pepper if necessary and finish with a generous amount of gremolata (parsley, lemon zest and the remaining garlic cloves chopped together).

Recipe Two: Mussels al Cartoccio

Serves four

1kg–2kg mussels depending whether for starter or main course
1 bunch cime di rapa (broccoli rabe)
150g pancetta
2 fresh long red chillies
3 cloves garlic
olive oil

Scrub and de-beard the mussels under cold running water, drain well. Trim the base of the cime di rapa stems, wash well, blanch in plenty of boiling salted water and refresh in lots of ice or cold running water.

Drain well and coarsely chop.

Cut the pancetta into matchstick size pieces and the chillies into regular-sized rounds. Slice the garlic thinly. Place all ingredients together in a bowl and toss together.

Lay out a sheet of parchment/baking paper and a larger overlapping piece of aluminium foil, both large enough to accommodate the chosen quantity of mussels.

Gather the parchment and foil together to create a moneybag-like parcel. Place the parcel over hot coals of an open fire, on a barbecue grill or on a tray in a hot oven.

As the steam begins to build within the bag, the mussels will begin to open and steam in their juices. After several minutes sneak a peak inside to see if all the mussels have yielded to the heat. Serve directly. Recipe

Three: Spaghetti, Mussel Crumble, Lardo & Warrigal Greens

Serves four

Begin this recipe overnight

100g finest quality dried pasta or fresh pasta per person, or your favourite fresh pasta recipe
1kg mussels
16 finely shaved slices of lardo (cured pork fat)
100g warrigal greens
white wine
1 lemon

Scrub and de-beard the mussels under cold running water, drain well. Steam open the mussels by placing in a hot pan with aromatics (garlic, thyme, parsley stalks) and a splash of white wine. As soon as the mussels begin to open, remove them to a colander over a bowl, which will recover the precious juices.

Once cool, remove the mussels from their shells and strain the mussel liquor through a fine strainer to remove any shell particles. Place the mussels on an oven tray on a sheet of baking paper and dry in a very low oven overnight.

The following day pound the dried mussels in a mortar and pestle in order to achieve a crumble like texture.

In a vigorously boiling pot of salted water, begin to cook the spaghetti. While this is happening, heat the reserved mussel juices with a couple of knobs of unsalted butter. As soon as the pasta is ready, drain well and toss through the sauce. Add the warrigal greens, heat until just wilted and then take off the heat and stir through the slices of lardo.

Divide between preheated bowls and top with the mussel crumble.