Saturday, March 13, 2010

Red Cabbage Side Dish

This is a good side dish on a wintry day, though it can be a lovely accompaniment to a meal whatever the weather. It goes particularly well with pork-- sausages, spareribs or a roast. It is also easy to make and doesn't require that you stand over it. I have been served this or the same thing but made with green cabbage or savoy cabbage by women from different parts of north-eastern Italy. It seems quite universal.

Take out a good-sized frying pan or a dutch oven and put a little oil (canola) into it.
1. Take 2 or 3 slices of pancetta (Italian rolled bacon, not smoked), cut it into dice, and saute slowly in the oil.
2, Add one good-sized cooking onion, diced.
3. Add 3 or 4 chopped or sliced cloves of garlic, more if you like. (I do.)
4. Take a nice big apple, peel and core it, and slice or chop it up as well.
Let all this saute together as you slice the cabbage.
Cut the cabbage in half or quarters so that you can remove the core.
Now slice it into about 1/4 in. slices and add to pan.
Put a lid on it for a bit, to allow the cabbage to steam. Now there's not so much of it.
Now here's the flavour trick--add a few capfuls of red wine vinegar and some salt. The red wine vinegar is essential, and you can add more as you taste, but go easy at can't take it out.
If need be you may add a bit of hot water every now and then if the mixture gets too dry, but it probably won't if you've used pancetta. The fat is still in there.
Cook slowly, uncovered, for at least an hour. Taste. Adjust the flavouring--the vinegar and the salt. I add a sprinkle of sugar, giving the dish that sweet and sour flavour which is traditional in some families, as is a faint touch of clove.
The longer you cook this the less the ingredients will be distinguishable, which is not a bad thing.

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