Sometimes, amidst all the brown tones of the holiday season, another dish emerges…something luminescent, jewel-bright, dressed to the nines…this is that recipe. Pomegranate Braised Red Cabbage! And not only is it a beautiful deep purple, spiked with jewels of fuschia pink, but it’s also deliciously sweet and sour, the perfect foil for an otherwise savoury meal.
Cabbage cooked slowly with some sweet and sour elements, is a formula as old as the hills – particularly in Northern Europe where cabbage is one of the few vegetables available over the cold season. In places like Germany and Scandinavia, red cabbage is classically cooked with apples. Here I’ve paired the apple’s sweet warmth with the sharper exoticism of pomegranate.
All this sweetness is lovely but it does need balance, which comes in part from the acidic pomegranate, but also from a spiky glug of apple cider vinegar. This, together with a sprinkle of brown sugar, turns this vegetable side into an almost-chutney. Something aromatic and rounded, sweet-sour and a little bitter, which provides a break from the sticky, umami-rich turkey, gravy and potatoes portion of the meal. Isn’t that balance, that ability to go from bite to bite and stay excited, the most exciting part of thanksgiving dinner? It’s not every night of the week there are seven different dishes on the table!
- 1 tbsp flavorless oil
- ½ head red cabbage, sliced
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 granny smith apple (or another sharp variety), grated
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients, over a medium heat. Add the sliced cabbage, and stir around to coat.
- While the cabbage cooks for a while, cut the pomegranate in half, through the middle (not top to bottom). Take one half, hold it over a bowl, and smack the back of it with a wooden spoon to make the seeds fall out. Keep going until about half the seeds are out of the fruit, and repeat with the other half. Now squeeze the pomegranate halves to extract all the juice from the remaining seeds.
- Strain the juice (reserving the seeds) and pour into the cabbage, along with the grated apple, brown sugar, cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Give everything a good stir, turn the heat to low, and place a lid on, slightly ajar. Leave to braise for 30 minutes, giving a stir every now and then.
- Serve immediately (or let cool and reheat on the stove) sprinkled with the reserved pomegranate seeds.