Braised Red Cabbage with Apples

Inspired by rotkohl from Germany, this recipe works as a side dish or a one pot meal by adding potatoes and sausage.

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium leeks, split and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 3/8 inch thick rounds
1/2 head red cabbage, sliced or cut into 2 inch squares
1 cup wine such as gewürztraminer or riesling, or a red wine such as zinfandel
1-2 tablespoons sugar or honey, to taste
Water or light stock as needed
2-3 firm apples such as Braeburn or Granny Smith, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
A small sprig of rosemary OR sage
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Neutral oil such as grapeseed, as needed

OPTIONAL:
4-6 small potatoes such as Romanze or Desiree, quartered
2-4 sausages such as Corralitos German or Bavarian, either sliced in rounds or in half

METHOD:

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a 3 quart sauté pan or casserole over medium heat, cook leeks and carrots in a little oil, cooking gently until lightly colored, sweet, and caramelized.

Add a bit more oil to the pan, if necessary, and add the cabbage, season with salt and pepper, then turn using tongs to coat with the oil and mix the ingredients. Cook to add color to the cabbage and begin the wilting process.

Once the cabbage has taken on some color and is wilting, add the wine and sugar (if using) and bring to a boil. If the wine does not come halfway up the ingredients, add some water or stock to raise the level. Scatter the apples over cabbage mixture, then tear up the herbs and sprinkle those on. Put a tight fitting lid on the pan and transfer to the oven.

Bake until the cabbage is done, about 30 minutes. Check periodically to ensure the pan doesn’t dry out. If it seems dry, add liquid.

When the cabbage is tender, the dish is done. If there is a lot of liquid left over, you can either pour it off or remove the lid from the pan and cook to evaporate the liquid, which will concentrate the flavors.

CHEf NOTES:

If you decide to make the dish a one pot meal, put the potatoes in the pan after adding the cabbage and then proceed. About 10-15 minutes prior to the dish being finished, add the sausages, nestling them into the cabbage. This bastes the sausages and imparts the smokiness of the sausage to the braise. Serve with mustard and the rest of the wine.

You can do this dish entirely on the stove-top, just be careful not to burn the bottom ingredients and cook slowly. The dish will probably take a little longer (10-15 minutes) on the stove top. If using the potatoes, make sure they are not too large- 1½ to 2 inch pieces would be ideal. You could dice the apples into 1 inch pieces instead of wedging them.

YIELD: Serves 4