Sweet-and-Tart Red Cabbage

Blizzard warnings sent us out for groceries before the winds began. The vegetable bins looked bleak. Winter freezes had set back Florida crops until broccoli and green beans cost as much as fancy mushrooms. At the end of the produce aisle waited perfect heads of green, white and purple cabbage. Winter’s a great time to cook cabbage; it’s loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and suits any cooking style from salads to side vegetables to the classic stuffed cabbage. As we prepare to wait out the storm, we’ll feast.

The ruby-purple red cabbage needs acid to hold its color as it cooks. Vinegar is the choice of tradition and the addition of a little onion plus a tart apple takes us to the north European winter cuisine of Alsace, Germany and Scandinavia.

I roast the last frozen farm chicken with small potatoes and onions, while a sweet-tart red cabbage simmers on the stovetop.

We sit down in candlelit darkness as swirling snow drifts into mountains beyond our window. While steam wafts from the fragrant cabbage, we lift our glasses hoping for calm through the night.

Sweet-and-Tart Red Cabbage

1 ½ lbs red cabbage, cored and shredded (7 cups)

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon duck fat or olive oil

1 small onion chopped (scant cup)

1 tart apple peeled, cored and chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup water

Toss the shredded cabbage with vinegar in a large bowl.

Heat the fat or oil in a heavy stainless steel or enameled iron stewing pot and gently sauté the onion until limp. Add the chopped apple, garlic and continue to sauté until garlic is fragrant.

Mix in the cabbage, one handful at a time. Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and water. Cover and cook over moderate heat until cabbage wilts. Stir occasionally, reduce heat to simmer for 30–40 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Taste for seasoning adding more salt or vinegar if needed. Serves 4 and is even better reheated after cooling.

Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at Amazon.com    http://amzn.to/9lOnZv

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