When you are pregnant, sometimes you have unusual cravings. I’ve been craving spicy food at times, and other times I crave sweet and sour flavors. My kitchen has an ample supply of oranges, grapefruit and clementines which is the main way I love to satisfy my desire for sweet-sour. But I have also been craving Apfelrotkohl, or braised apple red cabbage with apples which also qualifies as something slightly sweet and slightly sour. So I decided to make some for dinner this evening.
Apfelrotkohl (called Apfelblaukraut here in Bavaria) is what I consider to be classic German comfort food. It’s a common side dish and goes well with pork or poultry, especially duck, and potatoes or Spätzle, which are German noodles. I asked my friend Mia how she usually prepares braised apple red cabbage. She smiled and said, “I open a jar and heat it up.” And indeed, that’s probably how most Germans get their red cabbage fix. Red cabbage from a jar is almost as delicious as making it yourself, and it is much easier.
If you want to make it from scratch, here’s how:
1 small to medium head of red cabbage, thinly shredded
2 strips bacon, chopped or 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion
1 tart apple, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup apple vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp caraway seed
(optional spices: 1 bay leaf, 2 whole cloves)
I should mention that this recipe makes a ton of braised red cabbage, so unless you love it as much as I do, you might want to consider having a crowd of people to help you eat it.
First, thinly shred the cabbage. Then let it soak in a bowl of water.
While the cabbage is soaking, you can chop the onion and bacon and slice the apple.
Add the bacon (or vegetable oil) to a large pot and sauté until browned or until the oil is heated. Then add the onion and sauté until golden. Add the apple vinegar to deglaze the pot, and then add in the honey, salt and spices. Finally, drain the red cabbage and add to the pot, a handful at a time. As you add the cabbage, stir it so that it wilts a little.
Turn down the heat to low, and occasionally stir the cabbage. If you need to add some more liquid, add some boiling water but not too much. Just enough to keep the cabbage steaming. Let the cabbage braise, while stirring from time to time, for about an hour to an hour and a half. The cabbage is done when it’s soft. If you have some liquid left toward the end, you can let the cabbage absorb the liquid.
To go along with the red cabbage, I decided to fix my Granny’s pork chop recipe, which she called “Glorified Pork Chops”. It’s easy to prepare and can cook nicely alongside the red cabbage. You can prepare this in a large skillet or a Dutch oven. I prefer doing this in a Dutch oven, myself.
5 to 6 thick-cut pork chops
1 can cream of mushroom, celery, chicken or tomato soup
1/4 c. water
seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, marjoram, bay leaf
Rinse the pork chops and pat dry. In a Dutch oven, brown the pork chops.
Then add the cream soup, water and any seasonings you like. Stir together, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low, so that the sauce simmers. Braise the pork chops for about an hour until tender, occasionally turning and stirring.
Isn’t that easy?
Granny never added seasonings to this particular recipe, but that’s because she was a Midwestern girl and preferred things on the unseasoned side. That, and she couldn’t abide pepper! Although Granny’s recipe isn’t exactly German, it’s very much in the style of German cooking. That makes sense, as her side of the family came from Germany. Either way, these pork chops taste great with the Apfelrotkohl.