Monday, October 10, 2011

Red Cabbage Sauté--To the Rescue

In my recipe book there are many recipes that I copied decades ago from different sources but never had a chance to use, until now, when I now continuously look for something new and original, worth sharing.

Yesterday, I reached for one such recipe from Poland, and made a cake that, from looking at all the ingredients, I expected to be delicious. However, half way through the preparation, I started to realize that the dough seemed somewhat heavy. There was nothing I could have done at that moment, so I just finished it and baked it. When ready, the cake looked beautiful on the outside, although it almost did not rise during baking. I took a picture of it, but when I cut a piece I knew that it was inedible. Very dense and almost raw, totally slack-baked, the cake landed in the trash.

Very disappointed, I decided to make something Polish again, but well tried and familiar, that never failed during preparation--red cabbage.

When I lived in Poland, around this time of the year a red cabbage was showing up on our tables, where it was continuously present until early spring. I liked it even more than a regular green cabbage probably because it was more dense and harder and I was always charmed by its purple color and all the shades of it. It depended on the stage at which the cabbage was cooked. Unlike the green one, red cabbage usually is not served as a dish itself, but to accompany meat dishes. We serve it with beef rolls, roasted meats, and obviously a duck (which by the way I do not eat). But because I have not made it in a long time, I enjoyed it so much that I ate it as my lunch.

Red Cabbage Sauté

1/2 medium red cabbage (about 6 cups shredded),
2 apples (I use Granny Smith or McIntosh)
1 medium onion,
1/2 stick butter (about 50 grams),
3-4 tbsp balsamic vinegar,
1 tsp salt,
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon, or a small piece of cinnamon stick,
1 tbsp sugar,

1. Shred cabbage into very thin slices.

2. In a large pot, bring to boil about a gallon of water with a tbsp of salt. Put in shredded cabbage, turn off the heat, and let the cabbage blanche in the hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain the water but save about a cup for further cooking.
3. Peel the apples and shred them on a large hole grater.
4. Peel the onion, cut in half, and then into thin half-moons.

5. Melt butter in a large pan. Add onion and fry it for 3-5 minutes, until transparent. Add cabbage to the onion and mix. Add back a couple of tbsp of blanching water to the cabbage and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
6. Add apples and cinnamon and at this stage cook cabbage until soft--that may take 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile,if the cabbage starts to fry, add a little more water again.
7. When the cabbage turns appropriately soft (I like it a little al dente; please note that red cabbage, because of its texture, will always be somewhat harder than green cabbage), add more salt to taste, sugar, and vinegar. The vinegar will pretty much prevent the cabbage from softening further so you need to try it before adding it. Mix well all the ingredients, and let it all cook for about two more minutes.

Serve warm usually with red meats and all kind of potato dumplings, speatzle, or potato puree.