Red cabbage, Rotkohl, is a mandatory part of a winter dinner in Germany. To me, duck, goose, venison or even beef roasts are incomplete without the purple vegetable, fragrantly seasoned with cloves, bay leaves and juniper berries. This side dish is referred to as Blaukraut, blue cabbage, in some regions, where it is prepared with less vinegar that alters the color in this recipe.I grew up on the jarred red cabbage by a German brand (Kühne) and, for the longest time, I thought of it as the perfect rendering of the dish. Living in America has finally inspired me to figure out how to make a Rotkohl myself that is as good or even better than the jarred cabbage. After some research and experimenting, I believe I have found the ideal recipe that is very close to the memories of my childhood and has tested very well with American friends and family.
Rotkohl. Six servings.
- 1 head cabbage, about 2-2.5 lbs.
- 1 medium-sized onion.
- 2 tart apples. Braeburn or Granny Smith works well.
- 4 tbsp goose fat or butter.
- 2 tsp sugar.
- 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
- 1 cup water.
- Salt, pepper.
- 2 bay leaves.
- 4 cloves.
- 4 dried juniper berries.
- 1-2 tbsp fruit jelly. Black currant, quince or even grape work well.
- 3 tbsp corn starch, dissolved in water.
Step one. Shred the cabbage, using a cabbage shredder, mandolin or knife. Make sure the cabbage stripes get fairly thin, which will allow them to cook better. Core and quarter the apples, shred them thinly as well. Chop the onion.
Step two. On medium heat, cook the onions, apples and sugar in the goose fat or butter for five minutes. Add the shredded cabbage, add the vinegar right away, stir and cook with the lid on for ten minutes.
Step three. Add water, salt, spices and cook covered for another 45-60 minutes on low heat until soft – keep on stirring occasionally. In the end, add the fruit jelly and more vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Use the corn starch to thicken the cabbage just a little.
When I serve it for a special dinner, I make the Rotkohl a day ahead. I make sure the cabbage still isn’t completely soft, so it doesn’t get mushy when I reheat it in the slow cooker the next day.