ROAST RED CABBAGE

Roast Red Cabbage.

I think the red cabbage is my favourite vegetable. No shade to any other vegetable out there but it’s the vegetable that I find to be the one I look forward to the most when I know it’s on the table. Which is bizarre as it’s rarely seen outside of the Christmas period, am I right? It perplexes me though, because it has such an amazing charisma on the plate with all of its deep, malevolent presence. I’ve found many a way to cook with it, most of the time it involves being on a stove top and gently simmering in a spiky liquid for an obscene amount of time. This is my quick alternative and quite pleased with it I am.

I have explained before with my Coca Cola Cabbage recipe that the first time I encountered a red cabbage was at Christmas time with my mum who would make great heaving batches of it beforehand to reheat when the time required it. I’ve been entranced by the violently coloured vegetable ever since and am always looking at ways to throw it on a plate. I got into a routine of only really liking it when it was braised, therefore came up with several recipes for it including braising it in Cola, Pomegranate Juice and the not so successful Lemonade.

What I found was that, despite time consumption never being a bone of contention to me, I could never really just ‘whip out’ a red cabbage dish. It always required some pre meditation. Pre meditation to a domestic cook can sometimes be quite restricting, so I wanted to come up with a much quicker method that I was able to just quickly assemble of an evening, so that my evening suppers would not be deprived of the beauty that is red cabbage.

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Preheat the oven to 200C. Grab a red cabbage and cut in half. Cut a triangle shape into hard, white core stem of the vegetable and discard. Slice the cabbage into smaller chunks – I suggest doing this in quarters as you’ve be very surprised how much one head of cabbage can give you and if you’re working with a small unit space as I do, this can take up a surprising amount of space. Add the chopped cabbage to a roasting dish.

Peel and roughly chop a red onion – you could use white but I find the red to be sweeter and in keeping with the colour theme here, let’s be pedantic together – and throw into the roasting tin. Sprinkle a tablespoon of smoked paprika over the cabbage along with a slight pinch of sugar. Now pour over a generous glug of balsamic vinegar. Tightly cover the roasting tin with some foil and slide into the oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove the tin and carefully take off the foil before adding back to the oven for a further uncovered 10-15 minutes.

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I have served this up alongside many a dish to include burgers, Sunday dinners but I will say this has gone fantastically with some griddled lamb steaks and jacket potatoes. Roasting the cabbage with a foil cover retains the liquid in the pan so it allows the cabbage to braise in the intense balsamic juices. However the cooking time you allow the cabbage to have uncovered at the end gives the cabbage time to retain its crunch.

I balanced the flavours of smoky, sour and sweet here – a combination that is sometimes hard to capture so I recommend being generous with the balsamic vinegar but making sure the cabbage isn’t drowning. You want to give it a generous spritz as if watering a house plant as opposed to overzealous douse as if you were washing the household dog. Not that I’m comparing cabbage to a household plant, but you get the idea.

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