A worthy side dish for the beef apple goulash from a few days ago. Typical German, soft, aromatic and fruity red cabbage, perfect side dish for many other typical German dishes like Sauerbraten – sour marinated roast or other kind of roasts, roasted sausages, goose or duck, beef roulades and so on.
I had stewed red cabbage for the first time shortly after moving to Germany. My mother-in-law is a typical German cook, meaning that she really cooks mostly traditional German dishes, rarely trying something she hadn’t known all her life. She does like my “curious” or “odd” food (like pumpkin, garlic, eggplants, sea food, Asian, Indian and so on) most of the time, but I cannot imagine her ever considering cooking anything with any of the above-mentioned.
But she does cook her German food very well. So it was her red cabbage I had for the first time. I found it OK but wasn’t really crazy about it. You see, it was ready made cabbage in a jar, that one only had to heat up a little bit. I cooked the same jar cabbage a few times before I decided it was time to try the real thing. And since then, I never looked back. OK, it is easy to open a jar and have the side dish ready in 10 minutes but when you take the time to cook a really nice roast, you actually do have the time to take care of the cabbage, while the roast spends its needed time in the oven. The hardest part of cooking red cabbage is chopping it at the beginning of the process, but with a bit of patience anyone can manage that as well. Then you just gather up your spices, throw everything in a pot and let simmer while the rest of the meal is cooked as well.
I experimented a lot with stewing the red cabbage until finding this version which I like best. It is very aromatic, slightly tangy and very fruity due to the apple sauce I used. If you do not have apple sauce, you can just chop one or two small, tangy and peeled apples and used them instead. I have my homemade apple sauce, which is barely sweeten, please use also a very low-sugar variety or unsweetened apple sauce.
I have even managed to can this cabbage some time ago. I had made way too much and was curious if I could preserve it. I stuffed it into sterilized jars and boiled the jars for about 20 minutes. It worked! Otherwise I just freeze the rests and warm them up when needed.
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs red cabbage
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 100 g/ ½ cup thick apple sauce (unsweetened or low-sugar) or 2 small, tangy apples
- 3 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 5 juniper berries
- 3 cloves
- 230 ml/ 1 cup red wine
- 1 splash red wine vinegar
- a little sugar to taste
- salt and pepper
- Shred the red cabbage very finely. If you use apples instead of apple sauce, peel them and cut them into small cubes.
- Melt the butter in a large pan. Sprinkle the sugar in the pot and let caramelize. Add the red cabbage (and the apples if using) and sautee lightly for about 5 minutes, while stirring quite often. Add the apple sauce, the spices, wine and vinegar. Add about ½ teaspoon salt.
- Cover the pot, turn down the heat and let the cabbage simmer for 1 hour. Stir from time to time and add more red wine if necessary (I didn't need to, but keep an eye on the pot, it should not get too dry).
- Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and some more sugar if necessary.