Growing up in a half Dutch household meant that we children got to sample a whole host of traditional Dutch dishes. One of the staple vegetable dishes was Spiced Red Cabbage, which was usually served alongside meatballs, potatoes and a generous dollop of home-made apple sauce.
So… years later, and with the cold months creeping in, I thought it was high time I made it myself. I had an old recipe from Foodily.com in my collection, and I adapted it further to make it just that bit more special. And man… I have to say (with apologies to mum), this is SO much better than the way I remember it. I’ve never been keen on vegetables (I used to throw the stuff out the window as a kid), but I could eat this until the cows come home! In fact, I don’t even bother serving it with anything else – I just eat a whopping big plate of it all on its own!
Don’t worry too much about getting exact proportions here. The recipe is very forgiving. If you don’t have all the spices listed, it’s not a problem – just use 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon instead. If you’d rather cut down on the butter (and I wouldn’t blame you if you did), you can halve or even quarter it easily (it just won’t be as decadently rich!). Also, don’t worry about whether there’s too much liquid (I didn’t even measure mine), as it’s easily thickened with cornflour anyway. And, feel free to have a play around with the liquids you add – I used apple cider vinegar, along with a combination of sherry and orange juice, in mine. The slow cooking is the secret with this recipe – it softens the cabbage and ensures the various spices and flavourings have time to amalgamate. Enjoy!
Update: It’s now two years later and I can happily report that you can make this exact same recipe in a pressure cooker (once it comes to pressure, keep on high for about 8 minutes, depending on how well cooked you like the cabbage), quickly release the steam and voila! Red cabbage that tastes like it’s been cooking for hours!
SPICED RED CABBAGE WITH APPLES
- 1 red cabbage (quartered and shredded)
- 2 tart apples (washed and sliced (you don’t need to peel them)
- 1 red onion (sliced)
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 glass or so of port sherry, red wine, or orange juice (or a combination)
- 3 Tbsp dark muscovado sugar (or plain brown sugar)
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2-3 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- Zest of one orange
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- 50 g butter (cut into cubes)
- 2-3 tsp cornflour
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°C (300°F).
- Put all of the ingredients, except the butter and cornflour, into a large oven-proof casserole dish. Using a large slotted spoon, mix the ingredients together until combined. Place the cubes of butter on top. Put the lid on the casserole dish and put into the oven. Cook for 2 hours (after the first hour, take the casserole dish out of the oven and give the mixture a good stir).
- After 2 hours, take the casserole dish out of the oven. Check to see how liquidy the mixture still is. It’s likely that it will need thickening; if so, take out a quarter cup or so of the liquid and add cornflour to it. Give it a stir to combine, then add it back into the casserole dish, giving the whole mixture a good stir. Taste the mixture and check whether it needs any further seasoning and adjust as needed. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes. The liquid should end up being slightly syrupy, but not gluggy. Adjust liquid content if needed.
- Serve hot as a side-dish, or on its own, along with a good measure of apple sauce.
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