A few years ago I spent a winter in Bavaria, the Southeastern state in Germany. One of my favorite dishes there was Blaukraut, a simple simmered red cabbage. The dish has three different names in Germany – Blaukraut (“blue cabbage”) in the South, Rotkraut (“red cabbage”) in Central Germany, and Rotkohl (also “red cabbage” – kohl is a Northern word for kraut).
It’s believed that the different names stemmed from the fact that the cabbage can take on different colors depending on the acidity of the soil it was grown in and its method of preparation. Some contend that the variation comes from the fact that there wasn’t a German word for the color purple until after the cabbage had been introduced. Since red cabbage has a tendency to turn a blueish color when cooked, adding acid (in this case, apple cider vinegar) helps retain its redness.
2 tbsp butter or coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 green apple, cored and coarsely chopped
1 medium-sized head red cabbage, shredded
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp each apple cider vinegar and water
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp each)
Shredding a whole head of cabbage may seem daunting at first, but it’s easy: place the cabbage core-side-down and slice it in thin strips along one side. Once you reach the core, cut it out, then continue to slice the cabbage until finished.
In a pot, warm the butter or oil on medium heat for a minute, then add the garlic. Sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds, then add the diced onion. Sauté the onion until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the apple and sauté for another minute.
Add the shredded cabbage, cloves, apple cider vinegar, and water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the cabbage is soft, about 30-40 minutes. If your pot isn’t big enough to hold all of the cabbage at once, fill it up as much as possible then cover and simmer; after 5 minutes, the cabbage will have cooked down and you can add more.
About halfway through cooking, toss the cabbage with some tongs to evenly distribute everything.
Once the cabbage is soft, add salt and pepper to taste. It can be served immediately, but for best results, put it in the fridge overnight and serve it warm the next day.
This dish goes well with potatoes and pork, as you can see in this recipe.