peasant fare: braised red cabbage


St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone and normally I don’t do much for the holiday. I’m not Irish nor do I fancy to drink gut-rot green beer. However, I am a fan of cabbage and hey, isn’t that something that ties my own Eastern European peasant roots with the Irish? Usually I stick with eating cabbage raw or lightly stir-fried but since it’s March and still a bit rainy, I decided that braising some cabbage would be the way to go.

My dad was always a big cheerleader for cabbage. There were only a few things he would cook and everything was always based on his Lithuanian ancestry: potato pancakes, kugelis (a potato style baked pudding) and cabbage. When my dad would be at the stove, inside the huge stock pot was a mess of shredded cabbage, bacon, chopped apples and some top secret liquids that made everything tangy and sweet and pretty damn tasty. This isn’t my dad’s recipe, but it’s pretty close, I think. I didn’t add any apples, but I know from experience that they’d go well in this dish. It’s great to eat immediately (and I’ve been known to drink the tangy cabbage liquids with a spoon right from the cooking pot) but it also gets better with age. If you want to make this vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth and add in some smoked paprika to replicate the smoky taste from the bacon.

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10 comments to “peasant fare: braised red cabbage”

  1. 1
    michelle   March 20, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    yum. i’ve always been a big fan of cabbage. it’s a “comfort food”, and also versatile. contrary to what my “emerald” screen name might lead some to think, i’m not of irish descent. but i still had some white cabbage on st. patrick’s day! i always celebrate st. pats, even though i’m not of irish descent–unless you count my korean ancestry ha! it’s only recently (a few years ago) that i learned some people call koreans the “irish of the east”. :-) anyway, i also made a loaf of irish soda bread (mmm!) to mark st. pats.

  2. 2
    Joanne   March 20, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    My mother-in-law is Polish and whenever she drops by for a visit she always brings us several jars of home made sauerkraut or “kapusta” as it’s called.

    My hubs loves this dour ‘n sour concoction and often tries to encourage me to eat it. Not a chance.

    What can I say – as much as I enjoy cabbage rolls and cole slaw and even braised cabbage, this acidy pungent sour dish with bits of beef is just not food of the Greek gods and goddesses :D :D

    I best quite while I’m ahead…!

    Your braised cabbage sounds quite tasty however. Mustard and brown sugar can certainly lend a lovely carmelized tart flavour to this cabbage dish. I will try it one day when mother-in-law drops by for a visit.

    Yeah, I’m a troublemaker ;)

  3. 3
    Terry B   March 20, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    You know you’re a grown-up when you can suddenly crave cabbage. This sounds wonderful!

  4. 4
    maryse   March 21, 2007 at 10:25 am

    that looks really good. i may have to try the recipe.

  5. 5
    Jill   March 21, 2007 at 11:48 am

    As a child, I never ate vegetables as my mother believed in cooking EVERYTHING into mush. Luckily as an adult, I gave everything a second chance and cabbage is now one of my favorites. I’m going to try this tonight!!

  6. 6
    eviedee   March 21, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    More like pleasant fare! Ha!

  7. 7
    Hungry Robot   March 21, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Hello – Would you have any Lithuanian food sites you could direct me to? My partner-in-crime is 1/2 Lithuanian and I would love to try my hand at cooking it for him. I’ve seen some recipes – VERY meaty and heavy, as you know (I am veggie). Any tips about how I can modify without changing the character of the food too much would be highly appreciated!

  8. 8
    The Overworked Barista   March 21, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    red cabbage, olive oil, salt, pepper, and an apple.

    Mmm…all you ever need.

  9. 9
    kickpleat   March 21, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    michelle, i totally agree that cabbage = comfort! i’ve never heard that koreans were called the irish of the east before…must be all that kimchi!

    joanne, i do love sauerkraut! it’s part of my heritage…what can i say!

    terry b, i have to agree with you fully on that point!

    maryse, give it a try…who knows, you might just end up loving cabbage!

    jill, i know the feeling. it’s amazing how as adults we can go back and re-learn to love the things we used to hate with a passion.

    haha, eviedee. that is awesome & true!

    hungry robot, i honestly have no clue about any lithuanian food sites! i do plan on visiting lithuania in september, so i definitely plan on scouting out a few things while we are there! but as far as i know, lithuanian food is very heavy & meaty!

    barista, sounds great! i’d eat that raw with a bit of lemon too!

  10. 10
    Dawna   March 24, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Oh, I adore red cabbage braised this way! I chop up an apple into mine (and, actually, I usually make mine vegetarian, although I’m a big believer in adding bacon to just about anything). Braised cabbage is terrific hot with dinner, but it’s also really good as a cold salad (in small doses, I think) at lunch the next day, or on a pastrami sandwich (just to keep with your sandwich-loving theme…)

    Hope the move goes well!

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