Red Cabbage

The brassicas I planted early (soon after the onion beds had been cleared and it was cool enough to plant anything) – I think it was the end of August have grown really well; probably the best I’ve ever grown.  They are squashed into the bed too so that everything touches everything else.  We’ve eaten lots of superb broccoli and secondary stems are already growing and I can’t keep up with the pointy cabbages, they are splitting before I can get around to harvesting them, but it is the red cabbages that have looked so beautiful in the bed especially the one right on the corner of the bed (which is obviously benefitting from more light than the others).

Prize specimen

I decided that it would be ideal for the lunch party last Sunday (see here for the adventures of the day).  One of my friends is following a special diet to help relieve pain so she can’t eat any meat at the moment; but the day was forecast as rain and cold so some meat was the order of the day.  I made fresh pappardelle and another friend brought Hare sauce to go with it.  The Secondo was beef cooked in wine so I needed some good comfort food that didn’t contain meat for my friend Lucia.  Slow-cooked red cabbage was my choice! Along with roasted Broccoli with Coriander and garlic (from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection)

The red cabbage recipe is a classic and the recipe I follow is from the ‘Cordon Bleu’ series of, I don’t like to think how, many years ago – but a really good recipe is always a good recipe.

The cabbage weighed in at a hefty 2 kg and 100 grams (ALL my metric weights) good job I’d taken off all the outside leaves before weighing it!

The sheen and colour of the leaves is incredibly beautiful

The colour of the leaves was so beautiful, like shot silk, luminescent an impossible sage green with red, the camera hasn’t captured it but you get the idea.

I used the whole cabbage, but I blanched it in two batches

  1. Cut 1 kg cabbage into shreds and plunge into boiling water and cook for 1 minute.  The cabbage turns an unlikely violet blue.

    So strange how red changes to blue in boiling water

  2. Next chop 2 large onions I used red ones because that’s all I have left and soften in butter (or olive oil if cooking for Lucia).
  3. Peel, core and slice 2 apples and add to the onions and cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Layer the cabbage, onion and apple in a large ovenproof casserole and season each layer with salt, pepper and a little vinegar and water (in theory you need 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 of water ) I just go my eye but being careful not to add much vinegar.  At this stage the cabbage changes back to its more appetising red colour.
  5. Put in a low oven 170° C and cook very gently for 2 hours.
  6. Here the recipe says to add kneaded butter to thicken the juices, I never find this necessary (and for Lucia I couldn’t use butter anyway!).This is good served with braised meat, sausages or with cold turkey.  Nice to have some ready-made in the freezer for when you don’t want to do any more cooking after Christmas day.