Monday, May 9, 2011

Braised Red Cabbage

I avoided cooked cabbage for a good many years due to a run-in at the dinner table with a dish called pigs-in-a-blanket during my childhood. I'm sure the dish was prepared correctly, because it seems to match up to other chance meetings I've had with the poorly named dish throughout the years, but I couldn't stand it; the way it looked, the way it smelled, the way it mocked me from the plate. Ever since that day, there has been a huge gaping hole in my culinary world, a huge gaping cabbage-shaped hole.

Which is a shame, really, because cooked cabbage can be so very very good. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I was taken to lunch by my boss and she recommended the braised red cabbage for a side dish. She's French, and her dad was a chef, so if she handed me a plate of dirt and told me it was the best tasting around, I would take it with a smile. Luckily for me, this cabbage tasted nothing like dirt, and I inhaled it fearing that somehow someone was going to try to take it away from me. I have dreamed of this cabbage since that day. Does this give you any idea about how great this cabbage was?

I tried recreating it at home with a Martha Stewart recipe, and it was OK (sorry, Martha!), but it wasn't worthy of telling you about. However, a few nights ago, I stumbled upon a cookbook my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday last year and, flipping through it, discovered a recipe for braised red cabbage. Of course, all other cooking plans were shoved aside, and I tried this out immediately. The result? A braised cabbage that has made me very very happy.

Braised Red Cabbage
from Mother's Best by Lisa Schroeder

The cabbage I had at the restaurant was topped with warm goat cheese, which I didn't happen to have at home when I made this, but plan to have on hand the next time.

4 large granny smith apples
3 pounds red cabbage (1 head)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 bay leaf

1) Peel the apples and grate them on a grater, rotating the apple as you reach the core. Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage and cut the head in quarters. Cut out the tough core and then slice the cabbage into shreds.

2) Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add the onions and saute until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and saute for another 3 minutes, or until a little soft.

3) Add the vinegar, red wine, and sugar, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Stir in the cabbage and toss to coat. Add the cloves, pepper and bay leave. Stir.

4) Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender. Remove from heat and serve.

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