Smokey-Sweet Braised Cabbage

The humble, lowly cabbage – I think it gets an undeserved bad rap a lot of the time. I no doubt hold that opinion because it is one of my favorite vegetables, but I am not claiming to be unbiased. I love the earthiness of it, the crunch, the fact that it is just as good raw as it is cooked and it is cheap – a whole lot to love if you ask me.cabbageI can’t remember where I got the recipe that is the original inspiration for this dish. It seems as though one of Larry’s sisters or perhaps his Mom, found it in the local paper, but I’m not certain. It was a lot simpler in terms of seasoning, but the fast and easy preparation hasn’t changed. And it is adaptable – if you don’t like onions, then leave them out, or use more brown sugar if you prefer a sweeter flavor. It’s your food, make it the way you like it!

A braise is a cooking method that involves two different stages. First the food is seasoned and browned over high heat, then it’s simmered in a liquid with lower heat, either on top of the stove or in the oven. Typically used to cook tougher cuts of meat, it also works very well for a robust vegetable like cabbage, which will stand up well to the longer cooking time required to get a deep rich flavor.

Not a lot of ingredients here [and not all pictured], all easy to find and not very pricey. The cabbage of course, sweet peppers, green, red or any combination thereof, onion, garlic, ketchup [yes, ketchup – trust me, ok?], cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin and liquid smoke.ingred2To begin, cut the cabbage into 1/4″ strips – from end to end, first removing tough outer leaves and the core. This is about 2 pounds of cabbage, which is quite a pile. It’s going to make 6 to 8 servings, so even though it is going to cook down a lot, you need a good sized pan – this one is a 13″ saute pan. Now, the original recipe called for using bacon drippings, which is my preference – I used 3 tablespoons. You can use olive or other vegetable oil instead, if you don’t have the bacon drippings handy. Larry is thin a rail and he can eat all the bacon he wants [the jerk]*, so we always have some on hand.cabbage_slicedSprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and about 10 grinds of black pepper and saute the cabbage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, cut a large onion [about 12- 14 ounces] in 1/4″ inch strips, along with 2 sweet peppers in any combination of colors you like. Mix in the peppers and onions and saute another 10 minutes, stirring enough to keep it from sticking. There should be a bit of color on the veggies and they will be somewhat wilted and cooked down.mix_peppers_inIn a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup ketchup, 3 tablespoons each Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke [optional]. sauce_ingredChop 3 or 4 garlic cloves and add to pan, along with 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon cumin. Add sauce and 1/2 cup water and stir together. You may add more ketchup if you like – I added another couple squirts because it just didn’t seem like enough.sauce_inSimmer, covered about 20 minutes. You can, at this point remove the cover and cook another 10 minutes or so to reduce the sauce – if you prefer the cabbage to have a crunchier texture. We like to let it go a little longer though – about 40 minutes before removing the lid to reduce the sauce. You should taste it when you remove the lid, to make sure it has enough salt and that the flavors are balanced to your taste. done_pan_500It is just wonderful stuff – full of good nutritious veggies, flavors that pair well with a lot of different things [like pork chops and a nice garlicky herbed couscous, or baked ham with mashed potatoes and gravy, or meatloaf and rice pilaf or burgers and fries or …. you get the idea] and the leftovers are even better than when you first make it. It is also a great thing to take for picnics or dish to pass dinners – it holds well, tastes good even if it isn’t steaming hot and it’s unlikely someone else made it too. [unlike one memorable church supper where every single person made macaroni and cheese. I kid you not.] Give it a try and let me know what you think.plate_turq_500

*not really – being a carpenter burns a lot more calories than sitting at a computer apparently.

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22 Responses to Smokey-Sweet Braised Cabbage

  1. Cam says:

    Something else I’ll have to try! I like cabbage too. My late grandfather use to call me cabbagehead when I was little :D

  2. TSannie says:

    I love cabbage too and this looks wonderful! My mother always put cabbage in her vegetable soup as it never loses it’s crunchiness. Yum!

  3. TSannie says:

    Oops! Sorry for the double comment. :(

  4. Daryl says:

    I love cabbage, my Polish grandmother made the most awesome stuffed cabbage and with the leftover scraps made cabbage soup

  5. Mental P Mama says:

    I love cabbage! This looks wonderful;)

  6. Ashleigh says:

    I envy that Larry! Looks yummy.

  7. Ellyn says:

    Now this looks yummy.

  8. Lori says:

    Oooooooohhhh! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!
    Can’t wait to try this!

  9. Lori says:

    Oooooooohhhh! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!
    Can’t wait to try this!

  10. Deb says:

    Cabbage is very good and I love the crunchiness of the middle after cooked.
    Sometimes I sautee it with onion and garlic, salt and pepper and add a little bread crumbs and butter…and that is good stuff!
    I will try your recipe!!!

  11. Trannyhead says:

    That looks good! I can’t think of cabbage without a couple of tales coming to mind:

    1. I love cole slaw with bleu cheese. It’s SO much better than plain cole slaw.

    2. I worked at this office once that would have “Tuna Fridays” and everybody would bring a dish for a sandwich and sides lunch. And one time this guy was supposed to bring the lettuce for the tuna sandwiches and he totally brought cabbage, instead. And it just wasn’t the same.

    3. Every time I see a cabbage, I remember traveling in Eastern Europe where cabbage reigns SUPREME.

  12. GreenJello says:

    I have the same complaint about my hubby, too… he does hard labor all day, and I fix computers.

    Jack Sprat and Wife.

  13. Janis says:

    For as long as I can remember, my mom has always had a head of cabbage in her fridge. You can go in there on any given day and you're likely to find either a head of green cabbage or red cabbage. Because of her, I have developed a love for the stuff, too. Our favorite is Sweet & Sour Cabbage. Sometimes I'll fry up some raw chicken chunks and then add cabbage, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes and cheese for a fast, yummy dinner. I'll have to try your cabbage recipe. It looks awesome!

  14. MUD says:

    I cooked this and just wanted some cooked pork to go with it. It is an awesome idea. It also made me think that some spicy chicken and seseme seeds would also add to a meal with this crunchy sweet meal.

  15. dlyn says:

    Thanks for the great comments everyone – I hope you all love it if you give it a try.

    MUD – that does sound like a great combo – I especially love hearing how people changed up or built on something I made!

  16. Umea says:

    Hi, I am always looking for new ways to make cabbage. This is a wonderful recipe and I will try it myself. Do you think I can substitute apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar? What is liquid smoke? I have never heard of that :) Thanx, Umea

  17. Donalyn says:

    Umea – I am sure you could use balsamic. It would be a little sweeter probably because it doesn’t have quite so sharp a flavor as cider vinegar. And liquid smoke is widely available here in the US, but I am not sure if you can get it in other countries. You can just use a little more smoked paprika, though it will not have quite the same flavor. It is still going to be really good though.

  18. I love cabbage too, and this sounds great. I don’t think I’ve had anything like it before. Thanks!

  19. Kevin says:

    This looks like a really tasty cabbage dish!

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  21. Nicole says:

    I really like it!! I’m not too big on cabbage but had thrown a party and had so much leftover cabbage that didn’t get used in the coleslaw. Out of several recipes I picked yours and it really tastes.. yummy! It’s like I’m not even eating cabbage. :D I didn’t have anything else in the house so I paired it with pinto beans; delish. I ate it cold from the fridge; still delish!. Thanks for the recipe!


  22. I love cabbage, it is really healthy and in addition it has diuretic effects, which is good for those who want to lose weight. It ca be putted in every dish and it is always tasty, I agree with you Donalyn that no matter where you put it, will always be crunchy. Thanks for recipe :-) I will try it soon.

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