Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rode kool!

Welcome to red cabbage braised with apples. You can probably guess which cookbook this comes from if I tell you that the Flemish translation is Rode kool met appeltjes and the French version is Chou rouge aux pommes. RODE KOOL! How cool is that! "Hey man, would you like some rode kool with that?" "You bet, man. Who wouldn't?!" (If you can't guess, see the post before this one.)

I happen to be a big fan of red cabbage. I'm sure that if we all ate more cabbages, radishes, and beets that the world would be a better (if gassier) place. Which brings me to a little story. I had the good fortune to be sent to Wiesbaden, Germany for a meeting at the German statistics office last December. We had our lunches in the cafeteria, and they had heaps of red cabbage at the buffet EVERY day. I thought this was just great until a couple of days into the meeting when my belly started rumbling uncontrolably and LOUDLY. My stalwart colleagues from Sweden and Norway (Nancy and Kristina, bless their souls) who were sitting to my left and right, didn't even bat an eye at the earthquake beside them -- they were the epitome of royal decorum. Over beers later, we did have some good laffs about the whole thing when I said "Didn't you hear that?!" and they said "Of course we did! HAR HAR HAR. Lay off the cabbage, you bone head" (or something like that). Fortunately, there were no emissions associated with this event, otherwise it may not have been so funny and there could well have been an international incident in the works. All this to say that, if you think "devil's hell-balls" are bad, then hold on to your hat -- they got nothing on rode kool.

Speaking of Germany, this is a great excuse to dig out your Maßkrug -- you know, those one litre German beer glasses that are just what the doctor ordered for this chilly, rainy, Oktoberfesty weather. (Well, it's a perfect excuse for me anyway.)

For this recipe you'll need some cabbage (they had nice small heads for sale at the Carp Farmer's market last weekend), an onion (or HUGE shallot), some vinegar (the recipe calls for wine vinegar, but I went for cider), 2 apples, 2 cloves, 2 bay leaves, a pinch of cinnamon, some brown sugar, and the usual salt and pepper.

The first step is to mince your onion and get it simmering away in a big lake of butter. (You may notice that I've gotten a lot of mileage out of this pot lately.)

Take half of your cabbage (the reicpe calls for a whole one, but you need several cabbage fans on hand to deal with that much rode kool) and remove the core.

Then cut your cored half-cabbage in half.

And slice that puppy into evenly spaced slabs.

Get your apples ready too by peeling them and slicing into sections (remove the cores at the same time). Initially, I'd planned to use honey crisp apples, but chickened-out and decided to go for some russets in the end (I thought the honey crisps might disintegrate in the pot, so went for something a little more, shall we say, robust.)

By the time you've done all that, the onions should be nice and soft. At this point, add the cabbage and stir it around to ensure that it gets nicely coated in butter. Then pour in 4 tablespoons of vinegar.

Add the apples, stir, and cook for about 3 minutes. Crank the heat a little (if necessary) to ensure that the vinegar starts to boil.

I thought I could be a smarty pants and stick the cloves through the bay leaves to make them easier to remove later, but I noticed that they fell out at the first stirring. So don't bother, just chuck your bay leaves and cloves in as is (tuck them down deep so they can infuse their awesomeness into everything).

Then pop the lid on, turn the heat to low, and set your timer for an hour and a half to two hours. (Like how I snuck that in? -- this recipe takes forever, but it adheres to the low and slow ethos of classic barbecue, great stews, and all those other recipes that take forever but that are totally worth it.) So hopefully you're a read-the-whole-recipe-first type and didn't get this far with 20 minutes to go before supper.

Stir occasionally and make sure the cabbage hasn't dried out -- add a bit of water if necessary, but not too much since you want it to all (or mostly) be absorbed by the end. When the time is up, add the cinnamon, about a tablespoon of brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Give it a stir and let all those nice ingredients get to know each other for a few minutes,

... and voila! It's delicious! It's beautiful!! It's RODE KOOL!!! (And hopefully the long cooking time will prevent any issues at work tomorrow.) This is a great dish for ANY fall fare: meat pies, sausage, stews, roasts, you name it. Dig in and join me in making the world a better place. Ttfn!


  1. well, not til later, anyway.

  2. I'm a genuine Bavarian from (amazingly enough!) Bavaria! Your recipe is very similar to mine, except I fry up the onions in bacon grease. The rest of it is nearly identical. I add some caraway seeds while it is slowly cooking down. And, yes, it is an excellent excuse to "haul out the Maßkrug." Prosit!

  3. Wow, thanks! Bavarians are awesome! The caraway and bacon fat are great ideas, and they'll be sure to make it into the other half of that cabbage that's still in the fridge. Thanks for the comment and the great ideas. Prosit to you too!