Consider this Quick Braised Red Cabbage with Cider Vinegar to be a tease.
Progressive Eats is coming up next week and I’m doing a Belgian dish known as Carbonnade, a beef and beer stew. Although the beef stew is marvelous on its own, I recently tasted it at a wonderful restaurant paired with cooked red cabbage. As is often the case, once I tasted that red cabbage, I just had to cook some up at home.
If you’re thinking about raw cabbage and grimacing, take a deep breath and prepare to change your mind. When braised with cider vinegar, apple, and caraway, red cabbage is a slightly sweet-and-just a teensy-bit-sour delight.
A word to the wise – use a big pot. Thinly sliced, the cabbage makes a mountain of “shards” that seem to barely fit when you first put them in. But don’t be concerned. After cooking, the cabbage shrinks to a fraction of its original volume.
Braising is a technique that combines a quick “dry” sear at a relatively high temperature with moist heat from a period of cooking, covered, at a lower temperature. This braised red cabbage uses relatively little fat – only 2 tablespoons for a whole head of cabbage. That small amount, combined with cider vinegar and a bit of water is all the liquid that is needed to take the cabbage from raw to cooked in just under 30 minutes.
Although I made this braised red cabbage with cider vinegar to go with beef stew, it would go equally well with roast chicken, or as part of a vegetarian meal with roasted potatoes and radishes and an interesting salad or good bread and cheese.
This recipe is inspired by two others, one from Epicurious and the other from the New York Times. While it is different enough that is is not adapted from either of them, it has elements of both. Of course, you could probably look up the ingredients online and find other, similar recipes that I have never seen. Red cabbage cooked with cider vinegar and apples is a well-loved traditional northern European classic. And now that I’ve made and tasted it, I can see why.