The red cabbage it is a collection of gastronomic and nutritional virtues, despite its humble roots. Available today most of the year, it used to be in the markets in late fall, just in time for the Christmas Eve or Christmas menu In many homes in the interior of the peninsula, it was even taken before the mass of the rooster.
Today it is still a very traditional and essential dish in many Christmas tables, especially in Madrid and areas of Castilla y León, like Segovia. In each house the recipe has its own particular touch, although the apple, the raisins and the pine nuts are not usually missing, an exceptional ingredient in former times due to its high price, and that, if it could be allowed, dressed the red cabbage with a touch of luxury .
As in many traditional recipes, the perfect Christmas red cabbage will be to the taste of each consumer, but in general there is consensus that cabbage should remain slightly crunchy. We will therefore avoid boiling it previously so as not to soften it too much, sautéing it directly in the pan.
It is usually seasoned with vinegar, which counteracts the sweetness and prevents the beautiful cabbage from losing its striking color, also with red wine. The aromas of the spices can be more or less pronounced, although since we are at parties it does not hurt to add cinnamon, star anise, or cloves. As for the apple, it can be sautéed or caramelized separately, or, as in this case, added directly to the pan to retain some of its crisp freshness.
Prepare the red cabbage by removing the outer leaves, especially if they are damaged, and cutting it into quarters. Remove the thickest and hardest part of the stem and proceed to cut it into julienne strips before washing it. Or remove the leaves, wash them, dry them and cut them later. Cut the onion into fine julienne strips or chop into small pieces.
Heat a base of olive oil in a large pan or casserole and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt, until it becomes transparent. Add the raisins and cinnamon, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the red cabbage, lightly salt and pepper and stir so that it begins to brown and lose a little volume.
Add the vinegar and the rest of the spices, stirring well. Cover and cook over low heat, for about 30 minutes, mixing occasionally as the cabbage decreases. Add a splash of red wine halfway through cooking if desired.
In the meantime, wash and peel the apples. Core and cut into slices, cubes or grate, depending on how we like to find the pieces of the fruit. When the cabbage takes half an hour to cook, add the apple and stir well.
Cover again and continue cooking until the whole is to the desired point. Brown some pine nuts in a pan without oil -or confit them a little with butter- and serve with the finished red cabbage. It is convenient to remove the cinnamon stick, the anise and the cloves, to avoid upset with clueless diners.
With what to accompany the Christmas red cabbage
Depending on how complete the festive menu is, or if we are going to serve it on Christmas Eve or for the meal on the 25th, we will distribute portions of this christmas red cabbage more or less generous, since it is light but satiating. It is a great first course, as a salad, or also a fantastic garnish for meat and fish, especially those prepared in the oven. Leftovers will last well for several days in an airtight container in the fridge.
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