As a child of the 1980’s, I have been familiar with cabbage from a young age. After all, as a three-year-old, what did I want more than a Cabbage Patch Kid? My great-aunt Lynne, a professional ballet dancer who wore sequined jackets and kept an eye out for trends, tracked down this hot item one Christmas and gave me my very own Cabbage Patch Kid named Julie. I suppose that means that as a child I was more familiar with magical cabbages than real ones. According to the dolls’ legend, Cabbage Patch Kids were born in a special field, after a “Bunnybee” sprinkled magical crystal dust on the field of mother cabbages.
As for ordinary cabbages, until several years ago my familiarity with them remained limited to coleslaw at picnics. Then I became more determined to cook with in-season produce and discovered that the true magic of cabbages does not come from Bunnybees or magical crystal dust, but from the cabbage’s hardiness. Cabbages enjoy cool weather, reaching peak flavor after a light frost. This allows farmers to plant a late crop of this nutritious vegetable, harvest it in late fall, and keep it in cool storage for several winter months. Even after you purchase a head of cabbage, it will keep in your fridge for about a week, ready to bring you a burst of Vitamin C!
So, this week, wanting to use fresh, in-season produce (yes, even in January!), I turned to a recipe we’ve recently begun sharing in the Wolff’s newsletter: Creamy Cabbage with Crispy Bacon and Fresh Apples. Like cabbage, apples are also fresh this time of year and make this recipe sweet and flavorful. The apples sweeten the cabbage, the bacon adds a balanced saltiness, and the coriander seeds give the dish a citrusy pop. It makes a superb side dish with pork or corned beef.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 head green cabbage, cored and chopped
- 2 large Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and thickly sliced
- ½ cup chicken stock, or as needed
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- ½ cup sour cream
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook and stir until most of the fat is rendered, and the bacon is lightly browned but still slightly limp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a small bowl; do not drain. Pour off any excess bacon fat in the pan, according to your taste.
- Stir the onion into the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook and stir over medium-
- high heat until onion is translucent. Sprinkle in the sugar, then stir in the vinegar. (Stand back or you’ll get a nose full!) Scrape up the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cabbage, stirring well to combine.
- Cook, uncovered, until cabbage is reduced and starts to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in apples, stock, and coriander seeds. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more stock as needed, and continue cooking until the cabbage is soft, but not falling apart.
- Just before serving, remove the cover and stir in the bacon with its juices. Cook over medium-high heat until any remaining liquid is reduced to a syrup and the mixture is piping hot, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in nutmeg, and fold in the sour cream.