Braised Red Cabbage 7

It’s easy to eat your veg, when they’re as beautiful and interesting as this recipe. It’s the time of year when things are heartier, including our cooking methods and what we eat. This does take time to cook down and soften, and is the perfect make ahead side – especially since the flavour will only get better, while it’s tucked away in the fridge.

My Mom made this often when I was a kid, although I can’t say exactly what she put in it. My best guesses… bacon fat, because she always, always had it in the fridge. And… straight up white vinegar. And… knowing how she liked her food, a little more sugar than asked for. She used what she had – with consistently fantastic results! Way before it’s time, my Mom was an ardent admirer of pairing sweet with salty.

If you don’t have time to make it for tonight, get it prepped and cooking while you’re enjoying tonight’s dinner. Once it’s braising, the stove does the work – you put in the time while you’re relaxing at the table.

To cut the cabbage you’ll need a large, heavy knife, at least to cut it into quarters/wedges. You could then shred it using a food processor if you have one. Otherwise, with the cut side down, cut carefully on a large cutting board. This goes particularly well with pork: whether a roast, some grilled chops or as you see below, rosemary breaded pork schnitzel. Fantastic combo~


Braised Red Cabbage

Using the whole head will make a tremendous amount – which I can still picture Mom doing. Did I mention that I grew up in a large family? I’ve adjusted the recipe found online at Epicurious, to use only half the head. To omit the bacon/bacon fat, use 2 tablespoons olive oil. To keep it veggie/vegan also omit the butter, using only olive oil.


1/2 red cabbage quartered, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise
2 bacon slices, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white-wine vinegar (rice wine vinegar would also work…as would regular white vinegar!)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (add a little more if you prefer more sweetness)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Rinse cabbage under cold water, then drain (do not pat dry).

Cook bacon in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until crisp, about 3 minutes. If omitting the bacon, heat the olive oil. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving it for another use. 

Add butter to bacon fat, then increase heat to moderate and cook onions, stirring, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in cabbage, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer covered stirring occasionally until tender, about 1 hour.
Cool and store covered in the fridge. 
Reheat over medium heat, adding a splash of both vinegar and oil to brighten up the taste.

7 thoughts on “Braised Red Cabbage

  • Steph

    This turned out so well! I think it's my new favourite thing. I could eat bowls and bowls of just this. Thanks so much for the recipe, Aunt Joanne!

    • Joanne

      Very glad you're enjoying some culinary adventures in your kitchen. Proud of you Steph and I know your Babcia would be as well!

  • Steph

    That's such a lovely thing to say! I found the cabbage super easy to make and SO flavourful! Looking forward to more recipes to help me get back to my Polish roots, at least culinarily!

    • Joanne

      Hi Steph,
      Anything other than bigos you want to see? I really would love to get all your Babcia's recipes written down!

  • Steph

    Oh, I would love to see pretty much anything! There are a few things I can think of, though. I really want to make pierogi sometime, and there was this really nice soup I had in Poland when I was there the first time. It was served in a bread bowl and it had cut up kielbasa and halved hardboiled eggs in it… I think it might have been called zurek, or something. It was so hearty and nice in the cold November weather!

    Something else I really liked while I was there was the Polish cheesecake– yum! And those little iced gingerbread cookies. And makowiec! Haha. Did Babcia like to bake much?

  • Joanne

    Wow! That's quite a list and I can def help out with pierogi… in fact, I just did a lesson recently with a neighbour! As for your Babcia, she didn't have much time when we were all young; esp since she also had the big house to look after AND helped out with farm work. She did make special cakes at Easter and Christmas, although not cheesecake. Makowiec… that's been on my list for some time, esp since a decent one is so hard to come by. Will keep you posted on any progress I make!

  • Steph

    Woohoo! Looking forward to all of it! (Especially the pierogi– I have a Polish friend that I've been talking about making pierogi with for quite some time.)

    Forever blown away by Babcia and all she managed, by the way. What an amazing woman! I miss her dearly.

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