Apologies for the long wait for a new post. I went back to Canada for Christmas and enjoyed some intermittent internet that made blog posting incredibly frustrating. Now that I’m back in England, I can post about the many concoctions I came up with while enjoying complete isolation (I got snowed in).
The traditional Christmas meal for my family always occurs on boxing day. This year we had a slightly smaller crowd (only 16) and I got to be in charge of all the side dishes. My mom wanted to cook an enormous rib of beef (it barely fit in the oven) that I decided would go wonderfully with my red wine mushrooms, rosemary roasted potatoes, a big green salad, and apple braised red cabbage. All together, the dishes made a beautifully dark plate with a nice spike of green (the salad) and a touch of cream (the potatoes). I think the way food looks together on a plate is pretty important. Since I’ve already told you about the delicious mushrooms, it makes sense to show you how to make the cabbage.
Cabbage is a really inexpensive vegetable which makes it a great veggie to use when feeding a crowd. Unfortunately, it is often thought of as a very bland, blah veg which makes cooks reluctant to use it. Thankfully, this is a very up-market cabbage dish. By adding a few more interesting ingredients like shallots, bacon, and balsamic vinegar, you get a flavourful, pretty dish with different textures. It’s also really easy to make. After some minimal prep, you fry up the bacon add some shallots and garlic then the rest of the ingredients and basically leave it alone. This makes it a great dinner party dish as the oven will be doing all the work as you’re running around making last minute changes to the table or greeting guests. You can even do most of the prep earlier in the day and then just finish it off for a bit longer in the oven (that’s what I did). This side dish has definitely changed my view about cabbage, I expect I’ll be cooking with it a lot more now
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 250g cooking bacon cut into chunks
- 3 shallots finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic finely diced
- 1 small red cabbage or 3/4 of a big one
- scant 1/2 cup apple juice
- scant 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Cut the cooking bacon into chunks removing any sinew.
- In a large frying pan (it has to fit all the cabbage), heat the olive oil over medium.
- Add the bacon and cook until slightly crispy.
- While the bacon is cooking, dice the shallots and garlic.
- Once the bacon is browned, add the shallots and garlic.
- Cook until the shallots have softened.
- As the shallots cook, slice the cabbage. I like to do criss-crossing cuts so you get little squares of cabbage.
- Add the cabbage to the frying pan, season with some salt and pepper, and give everything a good stir.
- Pour in the scant 1/2 cups of each apple juice and balsamic vinegar.
- Put a lid on the frying pan, or (if you don’t have one big enough) cover it will aluminum foil.
- Allow the cabbage to cook over medium heat for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. You can do steps 1 to 11 in preparation, cover the cabbage, and let it sit until half an hour before you plan to eat. You just have to add 10 minutes to the oven cooking time as the cabbage will have to heat up again.
- After the cabbage has been cooking for 10 minutes, preheat your oven to 400F (200C).
- Add the butter to the cabbage.
- Transfer the cabbage to the oven for a further 20 minutes cooking add a touch more apple juice if it looks a little dry.
- Season the dish a bit more if it needs it and (if you feel like it) garnish with some finely sliced apple.