This is another one of those dishes where the whole is far, far greater than the sum of its parts – a superb illustration of the essential alchemy of cooking in action.
A few ordinary foodstuffs come together, and magic starts to happen. Gasoline, flame, BOOM!
This is probably because all the constituent parts kind of back each other up – cumin goes well with apple, pig and apple is a true marriage made in heaven, and pig and cabbage is right up there with tomatoes and basil.
It’s a wonderfully versatile dish, too. It might well be eternally fated to play a supporting roll, but some damn fine actors have taken home an Oscar for a “best supporting” gig.
It’s at its best when accompanying grilled or fried meats, but can also do the business for poultry – the other evening we enjoyed it with Lemon and Honey Chicken.
If it has one drawback, it’s that it’s a rather seasonal dish, at the top of its game during the Autumn and Winter months.
To be honest, I’ll start worrying about that little factlet come late March. Until that time rolls around, I’ll be tucking into this dish on a regular basis!
Red Cabbage With Green Apple and Bacon
- Half a large head of red cabbage
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
- 280g smoked cubed bacon
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- Core and thinly slice the cabbage. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick lidded saucepan. Fry the smoked bacon cubes until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the olive oil and rendered bacon fat behind.
- Add the cumin seeds to the pan. Stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add the onion, then stir fry until soft and beginning to take on a good colour, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the pan, and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the apple, and stir well to coat with the vegetables and spices. Stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, the fried bacon cubes, and about 100ml of hot water. Stir well, cover, and cook on medium low heat, stirring often, until the cabbage and apples are tender, about 45 minutes or so, adding more hot water as required. Towards the end of cooking remove the lid, so that the last of the water can cook off, leaving the finished dish dry.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Serve.
I was serving this particular incarnation of the dish with a main course that made quite heavy use of paprika, so felt that that spice’s inclusion here would be a tad overkill. If it doesn’t clash with your main course, feel free to include about 2 tsp of paprika also – a good quality smoked Spanish variety would work wonders.
This dish would also benefit from a touch of chilli-inspired heat, too – either a half-teaspoon of hot chilli powder or a finely chopped fresh Jalapeño would work very well indeed. The only reason I didn’t throw in a little of the hot stuff was that one of the persons eating it that evening has a very low tolerance to capsaicin, the poor soul.