Happy Thanksgiving! Be thankful for cabbage!
My family and I have got a lot to be thankful for this year. Oh, I’m thankful for more hours of sleep so that I can share this easy & budget-friendly Red Cabbage recipe with you. Aside from being thankful for the good food coma and good wine, we are truly blessed to have so much generosity and support as we started to grow our family — from family and friends, as well as from the Alberta Baby Box & Welcome to Parenthood program.
I had to convince my 4.5 month old to nap, so that I could slice the cabbage using a chef’s knife. The conversation went like this, “Sweetie, time to nap. You won’t miss much. Slicing cabbage is pretty boring. I will play with you when you wake up from a refreshing nap.” I pre-chop/slice the onions the night before and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge. (Cutting onions around babies are going to make them really cry.) Interesting aside: the earlier babies sleep, the more time you’ve got for food prep for the next day. Bonus: a less over-tired baby is also a happier baby.
This is my second Thanksgiving making Red Cabbage as a side dish. This year, I had to resort to using the 6 quart slow cooker. I honestly found little difference between using the slow cooker versus braising it slowly on the stove. With *Oma‘s feedback and suggestion from last year, I used lemon juice. It does make the dish better than using vinegar. (*She is my Oma-in-law but we will call her ‘Oma’) Her recipe was quite verbal. This recipe is my adaptation of an authentic German family recipe.
One large head of red cabbage may not fit in the slow cooker, so be prepared to store leftover sliced cabbage to use some left over for some fresh salad.
This red cabbage recipe is my family-in-law’s approved. When I asked Oma how she liked the red cabbage, she said when she did it, she sliced the red cabbage a lot thinner by using this “machine” as she used her hands to describe the motion. I think she had meant the mandolin to get the cabbage very thinly sliced. She mentioned, however, that I did a good job by hand. Cutting the red cabbage is tricky — core first then slice thinly. Always ensure that your base is stable and flat before continue cutting. My red cabbage was eventually a cube! Knife safety always comes first. So, I will gently remind you to sharpen your knife if you haven’t done so in a long time. “A sharp knife is a safe knife” — I quote Kris from Knifewear, Edmonton.
I believe I have perfected this recipe. Adding red wine is optional; if you skip adding the red wine, make sure you substitute it with 1/4 cup of broth of your choice or just water. I used Sawmill Merlot (a fruity BC wine) only because my husband and I were sharing a bottle at home for a mini date night. Since the bottle is a screw top, you can’t keep the wine for too long — it will turn into vinegar.
This is a perfect holiday side dish which you can also freeze for later. It’s easy to make. All you have to do is fry some onions in bacon fat (or lard), coat the slow cooker with the grease from the frying pan using a spatula, “assemble” your remaining ingredients, and turn on the slow cooker on low for 4 to 5 hours. You can start smelling it around the 3.5 hour mark. Don’t peek unless you wanted to some minor taste adjustments.
Tip: You don’t have to use olive oil. You can use any vegetable oil you like before warming up the bacon fat on a moderately hot frying pan. If you don’t have any bacon fat handy, you can fry up some bacon and store the grease in an airtight jar.
To make it vegetarian-friendly, you can opt for butter or vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) instead.
If omitting red wine, subsitute it with 1/4 cup water or broth.