Everyone has a favorite “grandma” dish and when the weather chills, Grandma Esther’s Braised Red Cabbage comes to mind in a heartbeat. As a child I was Grandma Esther’s sous-chef when it came to Braised Red Cabbage. Together, we would head to the local market and pick the cabbage that had the deepest color and firmest tight leaves, three perfect Jonathan apples and eight slices of thickly sliced bacon. And finally, Grandma would slip a box Cracker Jack into the cart for a treat when everything was done.
When we arrived home the process began, slowing sautéing the bacon, and cutting the red cabbage. I always peeled and cut the apples for this dish and tasted the sweet-sour combination of flavors to make sure it was just right. Like many families, we had special bowls for certain dishes. For generations, the red cabbage was always served in a Grandma’s Dutch Chinese Transfer bowl. The perfect, colorful cradle for this sweet and savory holiday dish.
All these years later, I still make this fabulous dish to take off the seasonal chill and serve it in her wonderful bowl.
Braised Red Cabbage
Ingredients: 1 large head red cabbage, cored, cut into ¼ inch slices, washed and drained well 8 slices of thick-cut bacon, sliced into ¼ inch by ½ strips, cooked and drained 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, diced fine 1/4 cup white wine 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 3 Jonathan apples peeled and cut into small, 1/2 inch square pieces
Using a very large, cast iron or heavy frying pan sauté the bacon until its light golden brown and lightly crisp. Remove from the frying pan and drain on paper towels. Drain off all but three tablespoons of drippings.
Add olive oil to the bacon drippings and sauté onions until translucent. Over medium heat add the sliced red cabbage, white wine, vinegar and all other ingredients. Slowly stir the cabbage and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the diced bacon and diced apples. Adjust the seasonings as you wish, I like mine more on the tart side. This dish is great to make ahead the day before and reheat.
Enjoy every bite.