It’s amazing how far red cabbages seem to stretch (the answer to your panicked question in the shop is: yes, it is big enough). They’re best cooked gently and slowly for a long time, or not cooked at all (such as in a slaw); this recipe plumps for the former option, because no book on side dishes should be without braised red cabbage so good from autumn through to spring.
My version of the classic dish includes beetroot, which brings its own sweetness and earthiness to the party. The redcurrant jelly at the end is the secret weapon, though. Imagine this alongside a venison suet pudding or pie, a beef casserole or a roast game bird.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- ½ red cabbage (450–600 g)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 250 g cooked (not pickled) beetroot, cut into 2 cm dice
- 50 g demerara sugar
- 100 g cider vinegar
- 5 juniper berries, crushed
- 0.2 nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 heaped tablespoon redcurrant jelly
- 20 g butter
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the cabbage in half, then in half again from root to tip. Shred each piece widthways with a large sharp knife.
- Heat the oil in a large pan or flameproof casserole over a medium heat. When it is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt, stir and cook to soften without colouring for 3–4 minutes.
- Add the cabbage and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, then add the beetroot, sugar, cider vinegar, crushed juniper berries and nutmeg. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook slowly for 60 minutes, disturbing it only 2 or 3 times to stir it. (You could also cook it in the oven at 160˚C/Fan 140˚C/Gas 3.)
- Stir in the redcurrant jelly and cook for 10 minutes more, or until the cabbage is tender and flavourful. Add the butter and stir it through, then season with plenty of salt and at least 10 good turns of the black-pepper mill. You can make this in advance and reheat it. In fact, it’s usually better after a day or two in the fridge.