Braised cabbage is wholly satisfying: warm and hearty and comforting in a way that vegetables usually only achieve in soup form. I guess it doesn’t hurt that there’s lots of pork fat in it, but the flavour of the cabbage is the star.
With slaw and sauerkraut, braised cabbage forms what I call the trinity of cabbage preparations. It is a cherished dish at Thanksgiving, and any wintry night.
Cook some type of fatty pork – bacon, loose sausage, and jowl all fit the bill – until it is golden brown and has rendered some golden fat into the pot.
Cook sliced onions and garlic in the pork fat until starting to turn translucent. Add the cabbage and cook briefly, until it is just starting to wilt. Add apple cider and vinegar. Or wine. The acidity is important for the flavour of the finished dish, and if you are using red cabbage, it is essential to preserve the vibrant purple of the dish.
Bring the liquid to a boil, lower to a simmer, then cover the pot. Traditionally this dish is cooked until the cabbage is very soft. I prefer braised cabbage with some bite. Ten or fifteen minutes should do the trick.
Once the cabbage is approaching its desired tenderness, remove the lid from the pot and crank the heat to reduce the cooking liquid. This will concentrate the flavours and make the dish less soupy and easier to serve and eat.
The last time I made braised cabbage I weighed out my ingredients to give you an idea of the proportions.
- 500 g bacon cut into thick lardons, or an equal measure of some manner of fatty pork
- 400 g white onion, sliced
- 30 g garlic, minced
- 1100 g cabbage, cored and sliced into thin strips 2-3″ long
- 440 g dry cider
- 60 g cider vinegar