Friday, 14 December 2012

Red Cabbage

File:Red Cabbage cross section showing spirals.jpg

Source for this image here.

Papa Bear asked if we might be able to have red cabbage with our Christmas dinner this year.  It's a dish that at one time I use to make very often, but then, as is sometimes the case, we had it just so many times, that it fell out of favour a little.  It's been a while since we last ate it, and so when Papa Bear mentioned yesterday that he thought it would be a nice addition to our Christmas day meal, everyone agreed!
In England there are usually 2 ways in which red cabbage is served as a dish.  The first way, which is also popular at Christmas, though perhaps not so much for the main meal of the event, is pickled red cabbage, which is very easy to make at home, though I have never tried.  We aren't especially keen on the sour taste of pickled foods, and they are not traditional in our culture, so none of us have eaten them many times.  Instead we prefer the cooked type of red cabbage, which is served as a side vegetable with other hot foods.

In fact cooked red cabbage usually does have a tangy taste to it, but it isn't ordinarily as sour as the pickled kind, and this is because it is traditionally cooked with other ingredients such as apples and brown sugar, which balance out the sourness of the apple cider vinegar which is also used in many recipes.  

Red cabbage prepared to be eaten hot doesn't, obviously, keep as well as pickled cabbage does, but it does keep quite nicely for several days in the fridge, and can also be frozen nicely.  It's great too for preparing ahead of time and then reheating slowly on the day you want to serve it.  I like to do this, and then reheat it in our slow cooker, so that it frees up the stovetop for other dishes, and means it is one less thing to worry about when I am getting everything prepared!

This is the recipe I am going to use - I have used many others before, but we find we like one that does not use too much fat - it seems to make the cabbage slightly greasy, which we don't like.  It is a Delia Smith recipe and can be found online here.  I tweak it a little, so my version is below - 

Before you start, if this is the first time you have cooked with red cabbage, note that it dyes everything!  Although I've usually managed to get it out I have ruined several tea towels so be warned - and wear rubber gloves if you decide to chop the cabbage by hand!

Serves 12.

2 lbs red cabbage, shredded (you can do this by hand, or in a food processor if you have one)
1 lbs cooking apples, peeled and chopped (I use eating apples - Braeburn is good)
1 lbs onions, chopped small (I use red onions as these are slightly sweeter and very pretty!)
1 clove garlic, chopped small (I omit this)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh if possible)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons wine vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar instead)
1/2 oz butter (I use 1/4 ounce - but it does need to be butter, salted for preference)
salt and pepper

The recipe states that you should cook this recipe in the oven, however I prefer to start it off on the stovetop, and then reheat it for longer in a slow cooker.  This way if you are planning to reheat it before it is served, it won't be overcooked.  

1.  Start by mixing the spices and the salt and pepper together and placing in a small dish.

2.  Now take a very large pan, and layer the red cabbage with the apples and onions, seasoning with the spice, salt and pepper mixture between each layer.  

3.  When you have put all the cabbage, apples and onions into the pan, pour over the vinegar and add the butter on top in small dots.

4.  Cover the pan with a lid and warm on the stovetop at a low heat for 45 minutes.  This should be long enough to cook and reduce down the cabbage without overcooking it.  

5.  Remove from the heat, cool, and place in a sealed container in the fridge overnight or until you are ready to use it.  Note - I would advise using a disposable container for this (see my comment above!).

6.  On the day you intend to serve the cabbage, place in a pre-heated slow cooker and cook on low for 5 - 8 hours.  It is very good tempered and in a slow cooker seems to sit quite happily without spoiling at a low temperature for as long as you like!

Any leftovers can be reheated one more time, and can also be frozen if you don't intend to eat them straightaway.

love1 second version