Saturday, February 23, 2008

braised red cabbage

Count on Thomas Keller to fancify any rustic, traditionally peasant food. In this case, cabbage. Braised cabbage is incredibly comforting to eat, and a perfect accompaniment to sturdier cuts of meat like pork and lamb. What caught my eye about this recipe was its simplicity, its honest to goodness ingredients, and pared down preparation, which is surprisingly very un-Keller. At the French Laundry, he pairs this side dish with pan-fried skate and a creamy mustard sauce. Tonight, I served mine with grilled pork chops that I had brined for about two days, and slices of crusty sourdough bread.

The cabbage is slow cooked, which yields a fantastic creamy texture, not even in the slightest reminiscent of the tough, crunchy cabbage that you begin with. The flavors and seasonings are delicate, which really let the intrinsic cabbage flavor shine. No mustard, caraway, or vinegar are added. The only acid is a good red wine. Make sure to have a good part of your afternoon open to monitor its cooking. You'll be glad you did when your kitchen fills with the warmth of these aromas. Here's another shoutout to Mr. TK. You haven't disappointed me yet!

Braised Red Cabbage
from The French Laundry Cookbook

small head of red cabbage, about 1 1/2 lbs.
1 1/2 cup dry red wine
2 Tbsp duck fat, or unsalted butter
1 cup diced red onion (1/4")
1/2 cup finely grated apple (I used Gala)
1/2 cup veal, chicken, or vegetable stock
4 tsp honey, preferably wildflower honey
1 cup finely grated peeled russet potato
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove the thick ribs from the cabbage and cut the leaves into 1/4" strips. Place the cabbage and red wine in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. The next day, preheat oven to 350F.

3. In a deep Dutch oven, warm the butter over medium-low heat. Add the red onion and cook until it begins to release its liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage, marinating liquid, apples and stock. Mix well, partially cover with the lid, and place in the oven. Bake for 2 hours, stirring, every 30 minutes or so.

4. Remove the pot from oven, and stir in the potato and honey to combine. If the mixture looks dry, stir in no more than 1/2 cup of water or stock. Recover loosely with the lid, return to oven, and bake for another 30-45 minutes. The cabbage will be very tender and noticeably creamy.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The cabbage can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


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