Christmas spiced red cabbage is a must at my Christmas table. Not only does it taste delicious but it’s spicy, sweet, sour notes add interest to the meal, it’s gorgeous deep red colour brings your plate to life and it’s smell, as it simmers away on the back ring of the hob, just shouts Christmas.
This red cabbage is my mum’s favourite Christmas vegetable and it goes brilliantly with the pan fried duck breasts my Dad usually does. Luckily it goes equally well with any Christmas meat, it’s sharpness cutting through the grease of the fattier birds and it’s sweet, sour, spiciness adding interest to the less flavourful ones. Saying that, it will also go equally well with the Boxing Day ham, some cheesy stuffed baked potatoes on the side. Now we’re talking.
I like to fry my red cabbage in a little butter and oil for a few minutes before adding the spices and liquid as this helps it retain shape. Apart from that, and frying the onion, the dish pretty much looks after itself. This recipe isn’t really a recipe so much as a suggestion of ingredients. Feel free to add more or less apple or onion according to your taste, or switch the spices up a little if you have a favourite. I often add a little mixed spice. And if you want to get more red wine into the dish then just tilt the pan lid a little, allowing the liquid to evaporate faster.
Christmas Spiced Braised Red Cabbage
Deep red and glossy, this Christmas spiced red cabbage is the perfect addition to any festive table.
- 1 large onion finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 small red cabbage about 600g (6 cups)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 cloves
- 1 star anise optional*
- 10 ml (2 teaspoons) balsamic vinegar
- 200 ml (3/4 cup) red wine
- 2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
- 1 eating apple cut into 2cm dice
- Salt to taste
- Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and halve. Cut out and dispose of the tough core. Slice into roughly 2cm wide strips.
- Pour the oil into the pan and fry the onion on a low heat until translucent. Turn the heat to medium, add the butter and allow it to melt then add the red cabbage and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the chunks. If it begins to catch on the bottom of the pan, lower the heat and add a small splash of water if necessary.
- Add the spices, stir then add the vinegar, wine, sugar and apple and stir well.
- Place the lid on the pan, bring to the boil then turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour 20 minutes. If the cabbage seems to be drying out, lower the heat and add a little more wine or a small splash of water. It is ready when the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage maintains its shape but is soft throughout.
*I like to add star anise for about half an hour then I remove it so that it’s flavour does not become overpowering.