Red Cabbage Braised with Maple & Ginger

Red Cabbage Braised with Maple & Ginger
 
An old-fashioned dish that appears on my holiday dinner table just as it did on my grandmother’s table when I was a child. Braising cabbage this way renders it lusciously silky and aromatic with the flavors of spice and fruit. The enchanting sweet-and-sour taste comes from apple, cider vinegar and a shot of maple syrup. I add bacon at the beginning of the braise so it will lend its smoky savor to the dish. If you prefer, hold the bacon back and crumble it over just before serving for a crunchy contrast.
Author:
Serves: 6 to 8 as a side dish
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon (2 ounces), cut into ½-inch-wide strips
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion (6 ounces), thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 medium head red cabbage (about 1¾ pounds), quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Frying the bacon: Combine the oil and bacon in a large deep ovenproof skillet (12- to 13-inch), set the skillet over medium heat, and fry the bacon until it renders its fat and begins to crisp, 5 minutes. Scoop out the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain.
  3. Sautéing the aromatics and wilting the cabbage: Add the butter to the bacon fat in the pan and stir in the sliced onion. Season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring a few times, until the onion turns limp, about 2 minutes. Add the apple and ginger and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high and begin adding the cabbage a few handfuls at a time. Once all the cabbage is in the skillet, sauté, stirring frequently, until the strands begin to wilt and have a moist gleam, about 6 minutes. Add the vinegar and syrup, and return the bacon to the pan. Stir to incorporate, and let the liquid come to a boil.
  4. The braise: Cover the pan and slide into the middle of the oven. Braise at a gentle simmer, stirring every 20 minutes, until the cabbage is tender and deeply fragrant, about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes
VARIATION: Red Cabbage Braised with Apple Cider, Maple & Ginger

In the fall when I have fresh apple cider on hand, I add some to the braise along with a generous measure of red wine vinegar to balance the sweetness. Follow the recipe above, substituting ¼ cup fresh apple cider combined with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar for the cider vinegar. The end result will be a bit sweeter and every bit as delicious.

 

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