Around this time of year we eat a lot of this zingy stuff. It goes perfectly with hearty, cold weather foods, like pork roast or schnitzel. There's no shame in buying it, and I will do that occasionally (like when I visit Ikea ☺). However it's so much better when you make it yourself. For the most basic version, you only need red cabbage, sugar and vinegar, but there are so many ways to spruce it up (see the tips below).
Method: Cut out and discard the core from 1 small (or 1/2 to 2/3 of a large head) red cabbage and thinly slice the remainder. Do it as finely as you like; it's a matter of personal preference. In a large non-reactive pot over medium heat, add roughly an equal volume of granulated sugar and vinegar. For a small head of cabbage, that's about a 1/2 to 1 cup of each. Once the sugar dissolves, add the cabbage and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer until it reaches the desired texture, about 45 minutes to an hour. About 20 minutes through the cooking process, taste it. Then you'll know whether you need to add more vinegar or sugar or maybe even a little water if it's too acidic. Store refrigerated in a glass or plastic container, being sure to keep the cabbage submerged in the liquid. I've kept it for up to 2 weeks (we usually finish it off in that time).
Tips: It's okay to start out with less sugar. You can always add more as it's cooking if it doesn't taste balanced. I use white vinegar and a little apple juice (or lingonberry concentrate, also available at Ikea ☺). You can use a mixture of white and apple cider vinegar if you like. A little balsamic would probably work. I also throw in a cinnamon stick or two, a few cloves and a dash of salt. I've seen an old Danish recipe that recommends cumin seed. Fennel seed and allspice berries are an option. Some people add red wine. Some add shredded apple. Clearly this can be taken in a lot of different directions.
Wondering what to eat with pickled red cabbage? As you can see in the photo above, it goes great with Danish-style pate and Danish rye bread (guess where it's available ☺). It also goes well with Swedish or Danish meatballs, pork roast, bratwurst, roasted duck or confit, just to name a few. You could even serve it instead of cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving (blasphemy, I know!)
I'm submitting this post to Weekend Wokking, which is being hosted by Erbe in Cucina. The theme ingredient is cabbage. If you've got a cabbage recipe you're dying to share, send your submissions to scrivi(at)ilmeglioincucina(dot)it by 11:59 Nov 1st.