Coca Cola Cabbage.
There are many recipes that I have taken away with me from the Kitchen of my adolescence. And while the majority of these recipes include soups, stews, roasts and British cuisines of that sort, I will never forget one Christmas being handed a Tupperware box of what looked like a syrupy purple coleslaw and being told to microwave it for the Christmas dinner. It was very unlike my mother to be microwaving components of a roast so I was pleased to know that this beautiful magenta tinted dish was actually a product of my mother’s preplanning.
Days before Christmas my mother had actually boiled down some red cabbage in a little sugar and stashed it away in a Tupperware box so that the broken down sugar particles could make the cabbage soft and sticky upon a reheat, which at Christmas is exactly the kind of forward thinking that will make the cooking stress free. The dish was an absolute triumph and while it is my earliest memory of eating red cabbage, I refuse to let Christmas be the confines to my cabbage intake.
Recipes I steal from my mother, while I have the utmost respect for them and keep them near and dear to my heart, I do feel as though my bloodlines gives me artistic right to tamper with them as I see fit. Sorry Mam. In this case, I have heightened the syrupy stickiness of the cabbage to an almost caramelised consistency by using Coca Cola that coats the shreds of cabbage in a glossy almost peppery coat and spike it with some smoky paprika to give an almost BBQ hint.
And again, just like my mother, I thoroughly advise this is made a good day or two in advance of use, and heated up just before serving.
Cut a head of red cabbage into small shreds – or be lazy like me and cut it into small chunks and then put it in a food processor. Heat a small amount of garlic oil in your deepest pan before dropping in the red cabbage. A lot of steam will omit from this pan as the cabbage reduces down a little however continue to stir now and then to ensure even heat distribution.
Add some salt and half a cup of soft, brown sugar and continue to stir until the cabbage starts to reduce down. Sprinkle in a little smoked paprika followed by Coca Cola – full fat or don’t bother – bringing the Cola up so far to cover the cabbage in the pan. Bring the Cola to a boil before dropping to a simmer.
Leave the pan for roughly an hour on a low heat, stirring occasionally just for peace of mind, but it should be fine but I do recommend for the last 10 minutes of the boil, turn the heat up high and stir to ensure that all the liquid is reducing down and leaving the cabbage with a conker like caramel glaze. Turn off the heat and allow to go cool before trapping in a Tupperware box before microwaving when you are ready to serve.
And like I said, don’t let Christmas be your propeller here. I have made this to go alongside ribs, as a substitute for coleslaw in a burger – I have even made a batch just to have in the fridge to pick at with a fork and put on toast and I wouldn’t judge you if you did too.
Just don’t tell my Mother I tampered with her recipe too much.