Braised Red Cabbage with Mushrooms and Figs
by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
Late summer brings a wealth of hardy vegetables which will continue through Autumn until the frost arrives as the harbinger of winter. It has been a cooler year where we live, weather-wise, and so the early autumn recipes tempt me, as well as the mounds of cruciferous vegetables at the market, such as cabbage, kale, red cabbage, along with the endless variety of other produce which lie close to my heart, like mushrooms.
This is my favorite time of year for the produce stands and farmers markets, even though the signs of the corn crop ending are almost upon us (A fateful but unavoidable seasonal passage.) But, there are still tomatoes and peaches and zucchini and eggplant. Soon, those will be joined by heaping stacks of sugar baby pie pumpkins and enormous displays of jack-o-lanterns, along with bin after bin of various types of winter squash, such as butternut and acorn. And concord grapes. And apples. Living in Ohio, the land of Johnny Appleseed, apples are everywhere. I look forward to that!
It is a lot to contemplate, but as I sit here enjoying the unseasonably cool weather with my a/c shut off, thinking of preseason football games and home cooking, why is it that almost always my mind turns to the cuisine of Germany and the Pennsylvania Dutch? I guess it is because in my home, cabbage is a big deal. We do love our sauerkraut. And those gorgeously rich colored violet cabbages just scream rotkohl to me. I love it. The delicate balance of sweet and sour pairs perfectly with pan-fried pork chops, wursts on the grill, oven roasted chicken, you name it. I could eat a big bowl by itself.
So this recipe is the first of many kinds of rotkohl I will cook from now through the winter months. I seem to vary it every time depending on what I have on hand. I was going to do a recipe I did about 18 months ago called Huntsman’s Braised Red Cabbage with Blueberries, which came together after seeing a recipe on a blog called Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, written by Laurie Constantino.
That recipe was Red Cabbage with Mushrooms and Blueberries – Chou Rouge Forestiere, which in turn was adapted from From a Breton Garden: The Vegetable Cookery of Josephine Araldo by Josephine Araldo and Robert Reynolds, (Perseus Books, 1990.)
I loved the idea of making red cabbage with wine and blueberries. How delightful!
So I set out to make my own interpretation of it along with my own choice of seasonings.
And as I said, I was going to make this again, because I really really like the Huntsman’s Cabbage dish. But unfortunately, my fresh blueberries in the refrigerator were, for the most part, mysteriously eaten, even though I did not invite Goldilocks into the house. But that’s all right. A good cook learns how to take a change in plans on a moment’s notice and embark down a new path. So I thought about what I had and the choice came down to omitting the wine and using something like black cherry juice, or using the wine and adding another fruit. I did have strawberries, but I shook my head at that thought. And I had some dry figs, which really appealed to me, especially if I changed up the seasonings with rosemary. I like the way figs and rosemary smell together. And I also wanted to keep the garlic in there, but opted to use roasted garlic for it’s sweeter, caramelized flavor. And it works, as I am sure you will find when you prepare this.
So I do hope you enjoy, and have a peek at the Huntsman’s Braised cabbage recipe as well as the recipe on the Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska blog, in addition to giving the Araldo-Reynolds book a read, especially since it was the inspiration for it all.
And this is cooking, the evolution of it, from one hand to another, cook to cook, even generation to generation, down the long passage of time as we all find new ways to enjoy the spoils of the season and the planet.
Braised Red Cabbage with Mushrooms and Figs
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 ounces chopped white mushrooms
- 1 pound red cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1/2 cup grated fresh carrots
- 1/2 cup roasted whole peeled garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or adjust to your own taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or adjust to your own taste)
- 1/2 cup chopped dried calamyrna figs
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup ruby port wine
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- In a large deep skillet or wok pan, saute the onions in the mixture of butter and olive oil until the onions are translucent.
- Stir in the mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, garlic cloves, rosemary, salt and black pepper.
- Saute until the cabbage is limp; stir in the chopped figs and cook 1 minute.
- Stir in the water, ruby port wine, honey and vinegar.
- Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, checking every so often to make sure your pan is not venting off the liquid as steam, otheriwse it might burn or scorch. As long as some liquid remains, it is fine.
Recipe from: palatablepastime.com
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