F and I have visited his parents’ house in western Germany for, I think, five of the six last Christmasses. A highlight is always Christmas (Eve) dinner: a feast of Sauerbraten (literally “sour roast” – not as weird as it sounds and actually very delicious!), gravy, Rosenkohl (Brussels sprouts), Semmelknödel (bread dumplings), and my mother-in-law’s delicious Rotkohl (red cabbage) dish. Last year, I helped “Mama K” make the Rotkohl and jotted down a few notes so I could share the recipe with you. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try it out for your own holiday feast this year!
Mama K’s winter Rotkohl is a silky-smooth, hearty side dish with a lovely balance of spices and sweetness. Warning: it’s not vegetarian! You could leave out the bacon fat, but the dish might lose some depth. The great thing about this Rotkohl is that it cooks up really quickly in a pressure cooker (you could also simmer it for a long time in a regular pot; I’d guess a slow cooker would also do a great job). If I remember correctly, we actually made it the day before and then reheated it for Christmas (Eve) dinner; that gave the flavors a chance to meld together in their glorious richness.
Anyway, to the recipe! This is a family recipe from K’s mother and I’d highly recommend it as a side dish to any festive (or even not-so-festive) winter meal. It’d probably make a great accompaniment to a Sunday roast.
Mama K’s Winter Rotkohl (my mother-in-law’s recipe; serves 4-6 generously)
- 4 small heads of red cabbage, chopped medium-fine (see picture at top of post)
- 4 apples, peeled, halved, & cored
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup Speck (lardons/bacon cubes/salo), or any amount you prefer
- to taste: red wine vinegar & sugar
- Wash and chop the cabbage, then toss it into the pressure cooker.
- Wash, peel, halve, and core the apples and place them on top of the cabbage in the pressure cooker.
- Stick the cloves carefully through the bay leaves (so as not to lose them in the pot! No one likes to accidentally chomp on a whole clove) and then arrange them on top of the cabbage with the apples.
- Add a few cups of water to the pot, and salt to taste.
- Seal the pressure cooker, bring to a boil, and cook on medium-high pressure for about 10 minutes.
- While the cabbage is cooking, fry the Speck/lardons in a hot pan, draining regularly, until the pieces are small and crispy.
- When the cabbage is ready, stir in the Speck pieces as well as sugar and red wine vinegar to taste.
- Enjoy immediately or heat up the next day for an even richer treat!
- Christmas, culturally: Christmas wishes from Ukrainians | Festive Cookie Party | колядки (kolyadky – Ukrainian carols) | Things Ukrainians Write: holiday edition | Winter holidays in Ukraine
- Holiday recipe inspiration: Candied Almonds (great edible gifts) | Dianne’s Cranberry Cake | Maple Pecan Bars | Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies | Cranberry-Orange Buns | Cranberry Sauce | Sweet Potato Casserole