Braised Red Cabbage – a classic Christmas side dish
No Christmas dinner is complete for me without a dish of steaming braised red cabbage. Slow cook it with an apple and some spices and the humble red cabbage is transformed into a dish fit for a king.
Bach is famous for his Goldberg Variations. My braised red cabbage may not be a work of genius, but like Meister Bach’s work, it’s slightly different each time I make it; I vary the spices and other additions as I see fit. The result is always delicious and it’s one of my favourite vegetable side dishes. Schwartz, that well known purveyor of spices, has an interesting recipe for braised red cabbage on its website and I was keen to try it. The recipe includes the classic accompaniment juniper berries, but also bay leaves and black pepper, all available as Schwartz spices.
For those who didn’t know, I include myself in that number, Schwartz is not a German company; it was founded in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1889 by William Schwartz. At that time it was near impossible to buy pure spices, they were frequently adulterated with all sorts of other materials. William was not happy with this state of affairs and spent his time peddling his pure spices whilst pedalling his bicycle around Nova Scotia.
I pretty much followed the recipe as given, but used red onions instead of normal ones and coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. I like to get healthy ingredients in where I can. I also gave it my own little twist by substituting my homemade blackcurrant vinegar for the cider vinegar stated in the recipe. The apple was one from my mother’s garden, which along with the red cabbage grown in Cornwall gave the dish a distinctive Cornish identity.
Talking of healthy ingredients, red cabbage is highly regarded for its beneficial properties. It’s a phytonutrient treasure trove with masses of vitamins, flavanoids and sulphur compounds. Who needs pills when you can eat this stuff.
CT got home from work and collapsed in a chair. He perked up no end, however, when he heard braised red cabbage was on the menu. It would be a perfect accompaniment to the lentil and Brazil nut roast I made at the weekend, but it’s also very nice with baked potatoes – which is how we had it. It should be cooked through, but still have a bit of bite to it. Leave it too long and it becomes mushy and loses its lustre. Done properly, like this, it’s sweet, almost fruity and has a slight tang and a wonderful texture – “this stuff is decidedly moreish”, CT told me.
- 2 tbsp coconut oil - or use oil of your choice
- 1 large red onion - thinly sliced
- 1 large cooking apple - peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 tsp dark muscovado sugar
- 1/2 large red cabbage - cored and sliced
- 2 tbsp blackcurrant vinegar - raspberry vinegar would also be good.
- 6 Schwartz juniper berries - roughly crushed
- 2 Schwartz bay leaves
- 25g sultanas
- Schwartz ground black pepper
- pinch sea salt flakes
- Fry the onions in the oil in a large pan over low heat for 5 minutes or until soft.
- Add the apples and stir.
- Add the sugar, stir and fry for a minute.
- Add the cabbage, vinegar, bay leaves, juniper berries and sultanas. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for 40 minutes.
- Add the salt and pepper, stir and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes.
I’m sending this braised red cabbage off to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary for Extra Veg. One of the great thing about Christmas is all those extra vegetables you get to eat and this is one of them. The challenge comes from Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Michele over at Utterly Scrummy.
This also goes to Cook Once Eat Twice with Corina over at Searching for Spice. We’ve already had several meals out of this cabbage and it seems the longer it’s left the better it gets.
And as this braised red cabbage is for me, very much a Christmas classic, I’m sending it off to #FoodYearLinkUp at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen.
Disclosure: This post is written by me, but in association with Schwartz. As always, all words and opinions are my own.