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Add a Robust Red Cabbage Dish to Your Oktoberfest

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RedCabbageRotkohl mit Apfeln (Red Cabbage With Apples)

The aroma from this side dish comes from the sugar, apple, cinnamon and spices. It will fill your house like a potpourri.

4 tablespoons oil (see note)
1 head red cabbage, core removed and sliced thin
1 onion, chopped
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
1 tablespoon brown sugar or 1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 cinnamon stick (see note)
6 cloves
1/2 cup dry wine, white or red
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Heat the oil in a large braising pan over medium-high heat. Once it is warm, but not too hot, add cabbage, onion, apple, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, wine, water, vinegar, bay leaf, cloves and salt. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 1 hour. Stir once.

Remove the lid and continue to cook, allowing most of the liquid to evaporate, about 35-45 minutes. If the rest of the meal is not ready, cover and let simmer until 5 minutes before serving. Uncover and let the rest of the liquid evaporate. Remove cinnamon stick, bay leaf and any cloves you may find before serving.

Note: The traditional German version of this dish is to use bacon drippings instead of oil. The cinnamon stick is not traditional, but using it helps you cut down on the amount of sugar you need to balance the flavor of the cabbage; if you don’t want the cinnamon, you may want to use another tablespoon or two of sugar.

Makes 10-12 servings.

From John Griffin

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5 Responses to “Add a Robust Red Cabbage Dish to Your Oktoberfest”

  1. Pingo says:

    Hello John,
    I make Red Cabbage all the time. Your recipe made me cringe. All these additions is not necessary at all. Red Cabbage is wonderful in it’s own way. All I do is saute the cabbage in a couple of pats of butter, then add a few Tbs. of vinegar and several globs of Red Currant Jelly (that’s the sugar/sweet part). I would have used Red Currant Juice, but it is not available here. A Tbs. of Caraway seeds will not hurt either.
    I simmer the cabbage until it is done (about 45 minutes to an hour), then add more sugar/salt if needed to taste. Heaven!

    • John Griffin says:

      There are so many different ways to fix each and every wonderful vegetable out there. Glad you shared your version, which sounds great, though those of us who dislike the sugars from the jam or the juice might shy away from it. How else do people prepare red cabbage? Post your answers below.

      • Barbara says:

        I agree, John. There are so many red cabbage recipes and they are all good in their own way. I have been looking for a recipe served by the Rathskellar (spelling??) in the Gunter Hotel around 1967 for awhile. I believe the cinnamon and the meat (bacon??) that seasoned this cabbage was the key to the really great taste. I’ve never had this taste again, but I have had some really great red cabbage.

  2. I sautée in olive oil half a diced apple (or pear) with a small diced onion until translucent. Then, I add the finely sliced cabbage, a bay leaf, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup honey (or brown sugar), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cinnamon stick, and a few cloves. Sometimes I add juniper berries or caraway seeds. I cover and cook it for around 45 minutes until soft and then adjust sweetness & salt. I never measure anything- I just sort of eyeball the recipe and adjust the flavors at the end as it is very forgiving!

    There is also my mom’s way- opening the jar. If you are in a hurry, with a little doctoring, the German brands are not bad… 🙂

  3. Birgit says:

    My Mom’s (Oma) version is a family favorite. A couple of tbsp oil, 1 onion-chopped, 1 finely-sliced red cabbage, 2-3 golden delish apples(peeled & sliced on top of cabbage (I’ve used applesauce or a can of apples – not pie filling) 2 bay leaves, with salt & pepper to taste, 1 to 2 vinegar-bottle-capfuls of vinegar toward the end of cooking. My mom always put the shredded cabbage in a large bowl & after sauteeing the onions, then ran some water over the cabbage and quickly scooped it into the pot, thereby rinsing the cabbage & the wet cabbage added the needed water that was still on the cabbage. Cover & cook ’till tender- take out bay leaves and adjust seasoning. Enjoy with beef rolls & german dumplings, Thanksgiving turkey or pork chops and mashers – Yum!!!