Red cabbage. Much sweeter than sauerkraut, braised red cabbage is the German restaurant equivalent of beans at a Mexican restaurant, always on the side of whatever dish you order. However, because of its sweet and acidy nature I think red cabbage is much more versatile than refried beans and it pairs well with many fall foods. Red cabbage is also a good alternative to potatoes because it can augment certain types of meat much better than potatoes.
Don’t get me wrong, I like potatoes but sometimes you need to go outside the box and braised red cabbage will be a fine pairing with just about any roasted dish you can make this fall. The acid from the vinegar will help cut through fatty dishes like duck, pork belly, goose, and the sweetness will pair well with any wild game like venison, rabbit, or pheasant. As you can see in the photo, it also goes with those Oktoberfest onion brats I made last week together with some homemade mustard. In fact they go so well together I decided to whip up a batch of braised red cabbage for an Oktoberfest party we had last weekend and I must say, it provided a nice balance to the salty, tangy sauerkraut. Our guests seemed to enjoy it too (and the batch of homemade mustard I made).
This red cabbage recipe has to be one of the simplest recipes in my mom’s recipe books. There really isn’t much in the way of prep work and it really boils down to throwing everything in a pot and letting it simmer until softened. (Get it? Boils down! Ha ha! I crack myself up.) And it’s very economical as heads of cabbage are fairly inexpensive. The recipe makes A LOT of red cabbage so you might want to halve the recipe if you’re making it as a side dish for two people. It will easily feed 4 people. In the future I think I may add some caraway seeds, bacon, diced apple, or as one party-goer recommended juniper berries.
Braised Red Cabbage (makes 3 lbs)
- 3 lbs red cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 ½ C water or beef stock
- ½ C brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ C cider vinegar
- 4 Tbs butter
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients except salt in a large pot. Don’t worry about how full it looks, the cabbage will cook down some.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat on the stove. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 60-75 minutes, stirring occasionally.