Slow cooker Christmas: braised red cabbage
The final count is in; there will be sixteen of us round the table on Christmas day… and I’m doing the cooking. There are a few butterflies but mainly I’m excited to spend a day eating drinking and making merry with my family and some friends who go back for eons. It does mean it’s important to keep ahead on the preparations and I try to tick off something every day. A combined feast means that there are dishes that absolutely have to be on the table for someone. Brussels sprouts and parsnips are non-negotiable for my lot; bread sauce, sage and onion stuffing and bacon wrapped chipolatas for another family; and one friend always asks “we will be having that red cabbage you make, won’t we?”. We will.
I thought this would be perfect for making in the slow cooker and it is. There’s no real difference in effort between making like this or in a cast iron casserole in the oven, but it’s much more economical as it just needs to braise away for a few hours – and the slow cooker uses the same energy as a light bulb.
As all my Christmas food, I think that less in more when opening the spice cupboard and advise you once again to leave that cinnamon stick and cloves alone. A crisp, fresh red cabbage plucked from the ground near Dubai, bought at the farmers’ market and chopped within hours of getting home, needs very little added to it – although one of those things is red wine. Quelle surprise.
Braised red cabbage - slow cooker
- 1 small red cabbage (about 1 kg)
- 100g butter plus a drizzle of olive oil or 100g ghee
- 1 small red onion, chopped to medium dice
- 1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and chopped coarsely
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 60ml red wine
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Parsley (see note below)
1. Remove any limp or discoloured leaves from the outside of the cabbage and cut into quarters. Cut out the thick white core from each quarter and then cut into fine shreds (you could do this in the food processor). Rinse well and drain.
2. Heat the butter and oil, or the ghee (clarified butter) in a very large frying pan. Add half the cabbage and cook for about a minute until it starts to wilt. Remove to the slow cooker pot with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining cabbage. Add the onion and apple and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring often. Add the red wine vinegar and the red wine and season. Pour the whole lot into the slow cooker.
3. Cook in the slow cooker on the auto setting until tender to the bite but not too mushy. Start checking after 2 and half hours – you can leave it slightly firmer if you are freezing and reheating. Taste before serving and add seasoning and a dash more red wine vinegar if required.
Note: As this is for the Christmas table I have garnished it with flat-leaved parsley – and jolly festive it looks too. This is in spite of my usual strict adherence to Prue Leith’s advice not to garnish with anything that has not been used in the dish. Dill would work really well here too.
Linking up to Ren Behan’s wonderful Simple and in Season round up event.
What absolutely, categorically, HAS to be on your Christmas or celebration table?