Stewed red cabbage with apples

(Béatrice Peltre)
February 13, 2008

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Serves 4

The vibrant purple color is the first thing you notice about a head of red cabbage. Often thinly sliced and added to salads, like a refreshing coleslaw, the purple head - always called red in markets - is also delicious cooked, especially with sweet and sour flavors. Cut it into quarters, slice them into thin strips, then saute the cabbage in olive oil and butter until soft. Simmer the dish with diced apples, fragrant spices such as juniper berries and bay leaf, apple juice, and brown sugar. A splash of something acidic - vinegar, red wine, or lemon juice - helps maintain the purple color, which disappears during cooking. Serve this wintry stew with grilled pork chops or roast pork loin and roast potatoes. If you have time, prepare the cabbage ahead. The sweetness develops as the flavors mellow; the dish tastes even better reheated the next day (hopefully with a little leftover pork).

1/2 medium red cabbage, finely sliced (about 8 cups)
1tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 red cooking apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2/3 cup fresh apple juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon juniper berries
10 pink or black peppercorns
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Peel off and discard the cabbage's outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters. Remove the core on each piece. With a mandoline or a chef's knife, slice the cabbage thinly.

2. In a heavy-based pot, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the butter. When it melts, add shallot, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until fragrant, making sure not to brown the shallot.

3. Add the red cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until it softens.

4. Add the apples, apple juice, sherry or red-wine vinegar, brown sugar, juniper berries, and peppercorns. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

5. Remove the juniper berries. Sprinkle with parsley. Béatrice Peltre