I'll bet you, and most farmers, didn't know this: an acre of cabbage will yield more food than any other plant. This cousin to broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts doesn't get its due. Other than using it for cole slaw, many people don't know what to do with it.
Foodies might swear that cabbage originated in Ireland. It's known cabbage is more popular in Europe than in the U.S. so it makes sense. But the truth is cabbage--just like the Mallory family, is not from Ireland. (My ancestry is French, where the name was Mal Rei, and later anglocized to Mallrey and then Mallory.) It was the Celts who brought cabbage to Europe from Asia around 600 B.C. The Asians had been growing and eating cabbage at least since 2000 B.C.
So how to cook cabbage, and make it a presentable side dish, possibly even something children will eat? I modified some Polish, African-American and Amish recipes to develop this, and added beer instead of water. If you're making it for kids, it's perfectly fine to use water in place of beer (yes, the alcohol cooks out, but let's stay legal here). The result is delicious, not sharp-tasting, and not limp in any way.
Braised Red Cabbage
- 1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
- 3 lbs. cabbage
- 1/2 cup beer
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a 4- or 5-quart saucepan, cook bacon till done. Remove bacon strips from pan and set aside. Chop cabbage into approximately inch-cube size pieces and cook in bacon drippings until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Cabbage cubes will fall apart but this is fine; do not overstir. Add beer, balsamic vinegar and stir. Add remaining ingredients and cook until cabbage softens, about 5 minutes. Crumble bacon and sprinkle bacon pieces on top. Serve immediately.