Braised red cabbage

Braised red cabbage is the obligatory side dish of duck and goose roasts in Hungary. There are a number of ways to cook red cabbage but the most common is to braise it. It is also great finely shredded in salads and coleslaws.

Red cabbage is full of vitamins (A,C and K), minerals and anti-oxidants; it has 10 times more vitamin A and twice as much iron as green cabbage. On cooking, red cabbage will normally turn blue. To retain the red colour, it is necessary to add vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot.

It’s not commonly known that classic braised red cabbage isn’t sweetened with plain sugar, its cooking starts with making a caramel in some fat. Braising requires liquid, therefore those recipes that instruct you not to add water to the pot are incorrect. Finely chopped onion and grated apple are a must because they bring out the best in this earthy vegetable.

The spices of braised red cabbage are usually caraway seeds, ground black pepper an salt, however I always add some crushed coriander corns to the cabbage as it goes very well with it. Vinegar is added once cabbage is done in order to restore its deep purple hue.

Braised red cabbage photo:


  • a medium head of red cabbage
  • 1,5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp goose or duck fat
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 200-300 ml (~1 – 1 1/4 cups) water
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6-8 coriander corns
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Peel off the outer leaves from the cabbage and discard. Quarter the cabbage, removing the tough stem, then thinly slice. Sprinkle with salt and let it rest for an hour. After an hour squeeze out all the moisture.

In a pot heat up the goose fat. Add sugar and, while stirring constantly, make an amber colored caramel. Remove the pot from the heat, add cabbage, finely chopped onions, grated apple and a half cup of water, and give it a good stir. Return the pot to the heat, stir in caraway seeds, ground black pepper and coriander corns crushed in a mortar. Cover the pot and slowly simmer.

Stir the cabbage from time to time and add more water as it boils away. Once the cabbage is soft and tender, turn off the heat and flavour the braised red cabbage with red wine vinegar.

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