Red cabbage my grandmother’s way

red cabbage

Red cabbages come in all sizes. It’s a dense vegetable, and goes a long way. And because you use every bit of it, there’s no waste. A large one will be enough for several helpings with enough left over to freeze for another time. Cooked red cabbage freezes well, so it doesn’t really matter how much you make. It also tastes good cold the following day; in fact I think it tastes even better the next day, whether you eat it cold or reheat it.

So, how big a red cabbage do you need for, say, four generous portions? It depends on how big you like your portions, but a cabbage about the size of a cantaloupe melon will easily be enough.

This is one of my favourite vegetable dishes; it’s great with any sort of pork, and mashed potato. Mash is an absolute must with red cabbage; when the mood strikes I sometimes eat red cabbage just with mashed potato.

If you like your recipes to be precise, apologies, my grandmother never cooked using exact quantities, she just used her judgement. So the following is a guide, please feel free to improvise.

For 4
1 red cabbage about the size of a cantaloupe melon
1 large onion
2 cooking apples – my grandmother always used Bramleys but Granny Smiths are equally good
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 – 4 (according to how you like it) tablespoons of malt vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar, you can add more towards the end of cooking to adjust the taste if you want
teaspoon of salt – again you can adjust the seasoning as you go depending on your taste preference

Cut the red cabbage into quarters and then shred it, cutting it into thin strips.
Peel and slice the onion.
Don’t peel the apples, but quarter them, remove the cores, and then slice them.
You’ll need a large heavy saucepan, one with a tight-fitting lid. Coat the bottom with the vegetable oil and gently warm it. Don’t let the oil get to the point where it’s sizzling.
Chuck in everything – red cabbage, onion, apples, malt vinegar, sugar and salt.
(My mother has her own way of cooking this dish; she also likes to add half a dozen cloves. It gives the dish a warm, spicy smell and taste, this is entirely optional.)
Give the mixture a good stir with a wooden spoon, don’t use metal, and close the pan with a tight-fitting lid.
Turn the heat up until everything starts to cook, then reduce the heat to as low as you can get it, you want the cabbage to sweat rather than cook.
Leave for about 2 hours; every so often give the mix a good stir, remember – wooden spoon.Towards the end of the cooking check for taste, adjust the salt or sugar if you think it needs it.

With its shiny gloss, red cabbage always looks great on the plate, snuggled up to pork chops, English pork sausages, German Bratwurst sausages, roast pork or pork cold cuts. But whatever you have with it, don’t forget the mash. Enjoy!

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