So, I mentioned I was going to try to use up the rest of the red cabbage from my Asian Fusion Salad earlier this week. I did it!
Both Michael and I have German heritage. Mine’s paired with Danish and British, and Michael’s is paired with Swiss. While my family sure thinks it’s neat we have German heritage, we haven’t exactly kept it alive (we sort of keep the Danish side alive…). My dad speaks English and Africanse, my brother takes French, my sister knows American Sign Language, and the rest of us took Spanish. To be fair, my mom can say “where is Peter?” in German. Woot!
Michael’s family, on the other hand, has a rich German heritage and his family has very much kept it alive and well. His father and sister served church missions there and speak German fluently, German words find their way into normal conversations, and almost everyone in the family took German in school at one time or another. We have all sorts of German and Swiss recipes from his side of the family, and there were a few I’d never tried.
Rotkohl was one of them. I used the family recipe, and, while it was cooking, did a little more research on the subject.
As anyone who’s ever eaten some of the more popular German food knows, sauerkraut and other pickled/vinegary foods are quite common. For those who find sauerkraut a little too strong or sour (Heh… accidentally typed ‘sauer’), rotkohl is a sweeter, less pungent alternative.
Basically a sweet-and-sour braised red cabbage, rotkohl (pronounced “rote-coal”) can be made one of two ways. The first is a more vinegary, sauerkraut-ish version, and the second sweetens things and tones down the vinegar with the addition of browned butter. Michael’s family recipe uses browned butter, but I snuck a taste before adding it in, and found I liked it both ways.
We made a whole German meal out of the dish by pairing it with (what else?) grilled sausages and some German potato salad, complete with a warm, vinegary, bacon-infused dressing (recipe soon).
Note on the recipe: the flavor improves with time, so whether or not you add the browned butter, feel free to make it ahead of time and let it rest in the refrigerator. Just bring it to room temperature or warm it up a touch before serving.
- 1 head red cabbage, shredded
- 1 apple, grated (you can leave the skin, just remove the seeds)
- ½c apple cider vinegar
- ½c water
- ½c sugar
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- pinch cloves
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- *for sweeter version: 4 Tbsp butter
- Add cabbage, apple, vinegar, water, sugar, pepper, and cloves to a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook about 30 minutes or until tender, but still with a small bite. Drain liquid. Add in fresh lemon juice.
- *If making sweeter version: brown butter in a small saucepan by cooking it over medium-low heat until foamy and golden. Remove from heat and stir into cooked cabbage mixture with the lemon juice.