Now don’t turn up your nose right away. I know, I know — sometimes the word “cabbage” brings up images of bland cole slaw or bitter and flaccid boiled green cabbage. Yecch. Luckily, I’ve got the perfect recipe to change your mind about this cruciferous vegetable, and lend color and dimension to your holiday table.
Red cabbage, in my opinion, is green cabbage’s more attractive and flavorful sister, and she’s cheap and easy to boot — inexpensive to buy and easy to cook, that is. Besides using it in the obvious slaw, red cabbage is also great when braised and served as a side to just about any chicken, pork or meat dish, and lends a punch of fuchsia to a table otherwise filled with drab browns and greens.
It’s all about playing with the flavors to pair them with the rest of your meal. Typically, many of us serve Americanized versions of European dishes during the holidays — spiced roasts, herbed vegetables, etc. So for this particular flavor profile, I’ve kept this German-style braised cabbage fairly simple, seasoning it with tart apples and apple cider vinegar, red wine, caraway seeds (often seen in rye bread), sugar and a hint of cinnamon. If you’re planning an Asian-inspired feast, I’d suggest going with flavoring agents like rice wine vinegar, five spice powder, ginger and sesame seeds; for a Latin American fiesta, go with cumin, garlic, chile powder and lime juice.
To kick this dish up a notch (and to please the carnivores), fry a few slices of bacon in the pan and use the drippings in place of the oil or butter. If you’re expecting vegan or vegetarian guests, start the dish with canola or vegetable oil as I’ve done in the recipe below. And any diners with gluten allergies will also be plenty pleased with this edible offering.
Best of all, braised red cabbage is even better the day after it’s made and would make a tasty addition to any leftover turkey sandwich.
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