Braised Red Cabbage with Star Anise Recipe

By Martin Zibauer »Martin Zibauer

November 21st, 2011



Braised red cabbage is a terrific cold-weather side dish—warm comfort food that goes very well with wintry roasts, such as pork, beef, or duck. It’s also a natural next to spaetzle, the delicious German cross between dumpling and pasta. (I’m working on a spaetzle idea. Stay tuned.) Cooking it is completely mindless. Once it’s simmering on the stove, just leave it for as little as 90 minutes, or as long as you like. Few veggies are as easy.

I’ve always made it the way my mother does, with a little sugar and vinegar (it needs that sweet and sour combination), flavoured with a cinnamon stick and a few cloves. But at the first Toronto Underground Market in September, I had a frikadeller sandwich topped with red cabbage that had a wonderful enhancement I wasn’t expecting: star anise. Here’s my version, inspired by Steve at Adventurefoods:

Braised Red Cabbage with Star Anise

By Martin Zibauer

Star anise adds a surprising licorice note to red cabbage, but any of the warming spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, or allspice, are good too.

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes | Start to Finish: 1 hour 40 minutes

2 tbsp butter (30 ml)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 star anise pods
2 tbsp red wine vinegar (30 ml)
1 tbsp brown sugar (15 ml)
1/2 tsp salt (2 ml)
1 apple, cored and diced (leave peel on)
1/2 head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

1. In a large pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft and transparent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
2. Tie star anise pods in cheesecloth (they can fall apart as they cook, and good luck finding them). Add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours, stirring a few times. Remove star anise pods, season with salt and pepper, and adjust vinegar and sugar to taste.

Yield: Makes 4-6 servings.


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Martin Zibauer

Martin Zibauer

Nov. 28, 2011

2:08 pm

Debb, My English-Scottish mom based her red cabbage on a Belgian recipe, and my Bavarian dad says it's pretty much as he remembers it from his youth. So it must be a pretty widespread dish in Northern Europe. I didn't like it much as a kid, but love it now.


Nov. 26, 2011

12:00 am

Oh, how I remember the smell of our house when my mom cooked this! I thought we were the only people who ate red cabbage cooked this way. My mom, from Arnhem, Holland used cloves and cinnamon. I don't recall if she used Anise. I wasn't a huge fan of red cabbage, but the sweet and sour if it is a taste memory for me!

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