Braised cabbage with bacon and applesBraised cabbage with bacon and apples

The new Jamie Oliver book is full of the kind of dishes that get stuck in my mind until I have a chance to make them. Pasta with slow-cooked duck, cheesy peas, gorgonzola-apple risotto…I see the titles and pictures, and the dishes stay in the back of my mind, ready for my next shopping list. One of the first dishes to really capture my imagination is what Jamie calls “Must-try cabbage braised with apple, bacon and balsamic vinegar.” In other words, all of my favorite flavors together.


The recipe is easy and involves little work. It’s a long-cooker though. Jamie tells you to let it cook for an hour, but I’m still cooking mine two hours later, and it’s getting more delicious each time I taste it (we ate dinner an hour ago out of sheer starvation, and it was perfectly enjoyable, but next time I’ll start much earlier). Here’s what you’ll need:

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 pound bacon, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 apples, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 red cabbage, outer leaves removed, cut into smallish chunks
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Cook the bacon and fennel in some olive oil until the bacon starts to crisp. Add the onion and let it soften. Add the apple, cabbage, and vinegar. Season well, cover, and cook for as long as possible, but at least an hour. The more you cook it, the softer and stickier and sweeter it becomes. It can handle plenty of salt, so don’t be shy. The thinner the cabbage, the faster it will taste good.

I served this with rye toast and little slices of ham I had around, and it was an excellent meal for a chilly night in. He tells you to put a knob of butter and some chopped parsley on top to serve, but why soften the vinegary flavor with a bunch of unnecessary fat? Why mask it with useless greenery? This dish is excellent unadorned.


Plus with a half a pound of bacon why would you need the butter? This sounds really wonderful. Did you ever try that cabbage with winter meatballs that I posted on here awhile ago? It’s kind of like this only with meatballs cooked in the cabbage. You would really like it, too. The meatballs have the bacon in them instead of the cabbage, but you still use the vinegar.

Wow! That sounds absolutely amazing. Likewise the meatball variation of Rebecca’s. Does it take over the whole house, smell-wise? If it does, I don’t mind, but I’d like to warn my wife ahead of time before I start the long cooking process.

This reminds me of an amazing dish I had at Alison at Bluebell (my favorite little place in the Philadelphia suburbs, run by chef Alison Barshack, back when I lived in that area), using brussels sprouts, bacon and a balsamic reduction. Perfect cool weather earthy comfort stuff.

Add a comment