Classic sweet and tangy Christmas dish. Shredded red cabbage, apples and raisins are seasoned with aromatic spices and slowly braised in cider and vinegar.
Braised Red Cabbage is a winter dish that is traditionally served with rich, fatty meats like duck, goose or pork. This is because the interplay of sweet and sour flavours cuts through the fattiness, making it a particularly good accompaniment. The basic dish comprises of shredded cabbage that is slowly cooked in a liquid. This can be done in a closed pot either on the stove, or in a low temperature oven at 150°C/300°F. The braising liquid could be stock or alcohol like red wine or cider, but is more usually a fruity vinegar like balsamic or red wine vinegar, as acid helps retain the vivid purple-red colour during cooking. Braised red cabbage keeps well in the fridge or freezer, so can be made ahead of time in large batches.
- 600g red cabbage (about 1/2 a large head)
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I used lard)
- 2 onions (260g), peeled, cut in half lengthways, and finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 5/8 cup (150ml) dry cider
- 3/8 cup (60g) raisins
- 3 apples (390g), peeled, cored and coarsely grated
- 4 tablespoons (70g) honey (replace with coconut palm sugar for a vegan version)
- Shred the cabbage. Remove and discard the tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Chop into quarters, then cut out the hard core from the stem end. Finely shred the cabbage (I used a food processor).
- Saute the onion. Heat the cooking oil in a heavy-based casserole / deep-sided saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook until the onion is translucent and soft – about 8 minutes.
- Add the dried spices (star anise, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper). Stir until the onions are evenly coated in the spice mix, and fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the vinegar and cook until all the liquid evaporates – about 3 minutes.
- Braise the cabbage. Add the cider, raisins and shredded cabbage. Don’t worry if your pot seems too full, as the cabbage will wilt down as it cooks. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop the cabbage from sticking to the bottom as the liquid reduces.
- Add the apple and honey and give everything a good stir. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Test for doneness by tasting a forkful – if you prefer a softer texture, cook for another 10 minutes before testing again.
- Once you have finished cooking, taste and add more honey if desired. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.
- Transfer to a large serving dish and serve hot. If saving for later, decant into an airtight container and transfer to the refrigerator once cool. Braised cabbage can be kept for up to 5 days in the fridge. Reheat by sprinkling with cold water and placing in a covered saucepan on a medium-low heat until warmed through.