There are two kinds of people in this world: people who like cabbage and those shudder at the mention of the word. But I think that’s about to change with my recipe for a totally different Christmas red cabbage.
Most people who fall into the ‘shudder’ category can probably trace the feelings back to childhood memories of cabbage – or indeed the dreaded brussels sprouts – that had been boiled for at least a month and a half passed its useful life before being served as some grey-green horror show of a side. I definitely fell into this category, but over the years Christmas experimentation has made me realise that, when cooked properly, cabbage can be pretty delicious.
Last Christmas I went down an apple and citrus route, creating a fresh and earthy red cabbage, but this year I think I’m raising the bar again. Now we’re getting pears and cinnamon in on the action.
I like this recipe for many reasons – including, of course, that it’s another excuse to sneak some cinnamon into a meal – but regardless of motivation this burst of colour is enough to make any Christmas table more inviting.
Even if you don’t like cabbage, I would suggest trying this one. It isn’t overcooked sludge; it’s sharp, flavoursome and packs more flavour that you might expect. Give it a go and let me know what you think.
Christmas red cabbage with pear
This recipe was inspired by one I saw on Pinterest. It uses pear, cinnamon and star anise to give it a richer, sharper and earthier flavour that you might normally expect to get from red cabbage. A red cabbage will work as a side on Christmas day for about 8 people, but half, quarter or double the recipe for however many people you have to feed.
1 red cabbage (approx. 900g)
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large/2small cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1/4 tsp nutmeg
600ml vegetable stock
1 small handful of parsley
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
Start by preparing everything. Shred your cabbage, slice your shallots, crush your garlic and peal your pears.
Take a large, heavy-based pan (with a lid) and heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the shallots and allow them to soften for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic and softening further (you don’t want the shallots to colour). After about 7 or 8 minutes add as much cabbage as you can fit in the pan and stir until it softens and you can add some more. Continue doing this until all your cabbage is in the pan, then turn the heat right down. Add the ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, star anise, vinegar, sugar and stock.
Stir gently to mix everything through. Put the lid on and cook on a low heat for about half an hour – remember to check that it’s not sticking every five minutes or so.
Just before the half hour is up, core and slice your pears, add to the pan and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Once the pears are cooked, the cabbage should be as well.
Serve immediately. If you want to freeze, stop a couple of minutes earlier so it doesn’t over-cook whilst you reheat.