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Spicy red cabbage with cider and apples

(Styling By Lisa Falso; Photo By Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe)
January 6, 2010

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Serves 6

Tart apples and cider, along with aromatic spices, add sweetness to robust red cabbage. Pancetta, a lean cured Italian bacon, adds depth and a hint of smokiness. You need to add acid to the cabbage, not just to counter the sweet taste but to improve the color. This is what the lemon juice is for, but you can also use cider vinegar. Render the pancetta until it’s very crisp (there will be very little fat in the pan), then cook the apples and cabbage separately just until both are tender but still have some bite. As the apple cider mellows, this dish improves, so make enough for another day. Serve with pork chops or broiled chicken thighs.

1 head red cabbage (about 2 pounds)
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium tart apples, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup apple cider
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. Quarter the cabbage and cut away the cores. Cut each piece thinly into shreds.

2. In a heavy flameproof casserole, render the pancetta over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until it is brown. Transfer to paper towels.

3. Add the apples to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until they begin to brown slightly. Remove from the pan.

4. Add the cinnamon and cloves and stir well. Gradually add the cider and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Add the cabbage to the pan with the lemon juice.

5. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until the cabbage softens.

6. Return the apples and pancetta to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until they are heated through. Sprinkle with parsley. Robin Shepard