This is one of my favorite go-to side dishes. Not only is it delicious, balancing tart tang with natural sweetness, it’s really quite good for you.
Aside from the multitude of antioxidants present in red cabbage (the brighter the color, the more antioxidants), this recipe calls for unfiltered apple cider vinegar, which helps to support good digestion by supporting healthy, helpful bacteria in our digestive systems. Yes, pickled vegetables support digestive health much like yogurt cultures! That’s right folks: probiotic vegetables.
And don’t get me started on the health benefits that have been associated with ginger for the last millennia or two. Celebrated by Chinese, Indians and other Asian cultures for eons, ginger is said to support everything — stomachs, spleens, inflammation, proper absorption of nutrients — and is able to treat various diseases including cancer.
I’m not endorsing ginger for any of those purposes, though I’m sure its awe-inspiring reputation is well-earned. I’m using it because it tastes fantastic in combination with these ingredients:
1 head red (purple) cabbage, chopped
1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 granny smith apples (or other tangy variety) peeled, cored and chopped
1-2 tablespoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger root (a piece about as big as your thumb)
2-4 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon bacon drippings (or butter)
1 bay leaf (optional)
Using a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the bacon drippings over a medium high/high heat. Before it smokes, add the onion and stir continuously to prevent browning. Add the ginger after about a minute and keep stirring. When the onion’s translucent, add the cabbage and stir to thoroughly coat the cabbage with the bacon fat.
Lightly salt to draw moisture from the cabbage, stir in the bay leaf, and allow to cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes.
The cabbage should be starting to cook down a bit, so add the peeled, chopped apples and the vinegar, stir well and cover for about 20 minutes.
Once the cabbage is soft, taste for vinegar and salt. The amount of vinegar is entirely up to you. If you’re not crazy about the stuff, start with 2 tablespoons. You can always add more later. Same with salt. Keep in mind the bacon fat will have a little saltiness to it, so salt after the cabbage has released its moisture and the heat has intensified the already-existing flavors in your pot.
Sprinkle over some freshly ground black pepper, and serve alongside a steak or pot roast, meatloaf or pork shoulder, chicken thighs or venison stew or whatever else sounds good!