Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sweet and Sour Braised Red Cabbage: Roedkaal

Plate of Red Cabbage
Underrated But Delicious and Healthful

Recipe by The Cooking of Scandinavia and Robin

Cabbage is an underrated vegetable here in the US. How often do we see cabbage in restaurants, or cabbage casseroles at potlucks? Sure, we see a few shreds of red cabbage in salads, but how often do we see red cabbage featured as a side dish? Most of the time, if we see it we’re eating in a German restaurant. Americans are missing out, because not only is red cabbage packed with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer components, it also looks beautiful on the table and snuggling up to other dishes on our plates.

Cabbage Braising in Frying Pan with Glass Lid
Essence of Recipe: Long Slow Braise
In fact, red cabbage is popular throughout Europe. In my quest to cook some Scandinavian foods, I found out that Danes prepare braised red cabbage, or roedkaal (means red cabbage) for part of their traditional Christmas dinner. Usually served with roast goose or pork, the subtly sweet-sour-piquant roedkaal also compliments turkey, chicken, or Danish meatballs. Recipes vary, and braising time can be 1-3 hours. White vinegar is typically used for the sour taste, sometimes accompanied by tart apples. Sweet elements include brown or white sugar and/or red currant jelly. Butter may be used, or not.

Polish people also enjoy sweet and sour braised red cabbage, or czerwona kapusta zasmanana. Similar to traditional German recipes, this includes onions and bacon fat, and is cooked for only about ½ hour, so is somewhat crispy and less marinated than roedkaal. It’s often served with kielbasa and mashed potatoes.

Roedkaal may be braised in the oven or a 4-5 quart stainless steel or enamel pot. Don’t use aluminum, which will discolor both cabbage and container. I employed my trusty electric frying pan, which has the advantage of fine temperature control. You want this dish to braise slowly and surely.

Braised Cabbage with Stacks of Shredded Apple and Jelly
Addling the Apple and Red Currant Jelly
I adapted this recipe from The Cooking of Scandinavia recipe booklet, published in 1968. I reduced the amount of butter drastically and increased the amount of apple. Many substitutes for red currant jelly have been proposed, including wild plum, raspberry, and cranberry jelliies. Beach plum jelly, if you can find it, is probably the closest.

You may adjust the proportions of sweet to sour if you like. Invariably cooks say that the piquant flavor of roedkaal improves if it’s cooled and let rest for a day or so in the fridge before reheating and serving. Sounds like the perfect dish for leftovers.

Plate of Roedkaal
Adds Color to the Table
Sweet and Sour Braised Red Cabbage: Roedkaal
serves about 6

~2 ¼ lb. head of red cabbage
1 ½ tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup white vinegar
½ medium sour green apple
¼ cup red currant or beach plum jelly

Remove tough outer leaves from cabbage. Cut cabbage in half from top to bottom and remove core. Slice cabbage very finely, cutting large strips in half crosswise.

Melt butter in electric frying pan or stainless steel or enamel 4-5 quart pot. Add cabbage and toss with two wooden spoons to coat with butter.

Mix together vinegar, water, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Add to cabbage and toss so cabbage is coated. Bring to a boil (at about 300 degrees F in frying pan). Toss again, cover tightly and lower heat to simmer (about 225 degrees F).

Let braise for two hours. Every half hour or so, toss cabbage with wooden spoons and check liquid level. Add a tablespoon or two of water if there’s no liquid. The cabbage is not allowed to brown in this dish.

Peel and core the apple. Grate enough apple to make ¼ cup well-packed gratings. Stir apple and jelly into cabbage. Continue to braise for at least 10 minutes, and up to one hour.

1 comment:

  1. Your braised cabbage is so beautiful, may I post a link to it from my new weightless blog? Thanks, Heather