Red Cabbage Flavors Fall Feast

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Red Cabbage

Certain foods remind me of fall. A tray of beautiful red cabbages with a hint of purple and blue on their ruffled leaves resembles a bouquet of flowers. Raw red cabbage is a flavorful addition to salads, or it can be slow-cooked to sweet perfection as a side dish.

One of my favorite recipes for red cabbage is in award-winning cooking instructor Rick Rodgers’s newest cookbook, “Autumn Gatherings: Casual Food to Enjoy With Family and Friends” (Morrow Cookbooks). From cabbage, squash and root vegetables to cranberries, apples and hearty, savory dishes, Rodgers shares uncomplicated recipes that are perfect for a cozy, comforting meal or a holiday feast.

This week’s recipe, which features red cabbage, sausages and apples, is a classic example of German cooking and celebrates the bounty of the season. Rodger says that he “learned early in my cooking life not to try and rush the cabbage, as it needs plenty of time to soften into the melting mass of sweet and sour ingredients that makes it so unique, and becomes the perfect place to cook your favorite sausages.”

The apples and apple juice enhances the sweetness of the cabbage, and the vinegar preserves the color of the cabbage. The flavors of the dish intensify the next day, so if possible, prepare the cabbage ahead of time. Nestle the sausages in the pot, let them cook while the cabbage is re-heating, and enjoy the flavors of fall!

OKTOBERFEST SAUSAGES WITH RED CABBAGE

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

6 slices thick-sliced bacon, coarsely chopped

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges

1 (2 1/2-pound) head red cabbage, cut into wedges, core removed and thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups apple juice

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 assorted sausages, such as bratwurst, Weisswurst, hot links and knockwurst, pricked with a fork

1. To make the red cabbage and apples, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a very large Dutch oven or flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain, leaving the fat in the pan.

2. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the Dutch oven and heat until hot but not smoking. Add the apples and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage, apple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, thyme and bay leaf, and stir well to coat the cabbage with the liquid. (The vinegar helps the cabbage hold its color.) Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Bury the sausages in the cabbage and cover. Cook until they are heated through, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cabbage and sausages to a large serving bowl, removing the bay leaf, and tent with aluminum foil. Bring the cooking liquid in the pot to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often, until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour over the cabbage and sausages and serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, a culinary historian and the author of five cookbooks. Her latest cookbook, “The New African-American Kitchen,” is in bookstores now. She’s known as The Kitchen Diva and is the executive producer and host of the “The Kitchen Diva!” — a television cooking show. Visit her Web site at www.divapro.com.

© 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.

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