Back to School
In the past week I started my second term at Le Cordon Bleu – Dusit Thani Culinary School where I am studying French Cuisine. Over the next 10 weeks I will be learning intermediate techniques and cooking regional recipes from all parts of France.
In the first week, we prepared double-crusted lamb chops, veal tenderloin and a Mediterranean fish, skate fish wings. Here is a particularly good side dish recipe that was paired with the fish: Flemish-style red cabbage, a traditional northern recipe. Back home in the U.S., I would normally pair this type of cabbage with grilled bratwurst (or other sausages) or even grilled pork chops. In the past I would have braised the cabbage in a slow cooker for several hours. This method, however, is fairly quick and the results make quite a tasty side dish!
To plate the red cabbage, I created what are call “quenelles.” Traditionally this term means a delicate dumpling, but it is now used to refer to a smooth oval shape, similar to a football. The method includes using two spoons held in each hand and using them and the side of the bowl the food is in to uniformly round the scoop of food on all three sides. This red cabbage dish has the right texture to create and hold this form.
Wine-Braised Red Cabbage Side Dish Recipe
The ingredients for this side dish recipe are simple:
- ½ red cabbage, finely sliced or shredded
- 100 milliliters distilled white vinegar
- 2 liters water
- 50 grams pork fat
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 200 milliliters red wine
- 1 apple, diced
In school, we use the metric system, which I have listed in the recipe; everything is scaled by weight. Here are the U.S. conversions:100 milliliters = 3.6 ounces (4 ounces okay)2 liters = 67.6 ounces50 grams = 2 ounces200 milliliters = 6.8 ounces (7 ounces okay)
- Regular butter can be substituted for the pork fat, just remember that the butter will burn more easily.
- Do not add salt to the recipe until after blanching the cabbage or the cabbage will not cook properly.
- Prepare the cabbage:
- Measure the water and vinegar and bring to boil in a small pot.
- Remove the stem of the cabbage first, and then any dry outer leaves.
- Cut the cabbage into quarters then remove leaves and pile/stack them together individually before cutting.
- Finely cut the stacked cabbage.
- Blanche cabbage for 10-15 seconds in boiling water/vinegar mixture.
- Cool down the contents in an ice bath and set aside.
- Emincer: Cut half an onion into thin slices.
- Melt the brown sugar and pork fat in a small pot to make the sauce.
- Add the sliced onion and blanched cabbage to the pot and stir.
- Add the salt.
- Cover the pot with a lid or foil and set aside on low heat.
- Check and finish the cabbage:
- Check the pot after 15-20 minutes, stirring as needed. Do not let the onions burn.
- Add the red wine to the pot once the cabbage is soft and continue to cook on a low heat until the liquid has been entirely reduced. This method will produce soft cabbage within an hour.
- Peel and finely dice 1 apple. Add the diced apple just before serving.
Taste and season the cabbage with salt and pepper, if desired.
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