Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chesnut bacon rotkraut

German cabbage dishes have a bad rep. Usually we assume they are sour, strong and very vinegary. And in all honesty, the majority of the time they are. In my family however, German cabbage dishes are a favorite. Why? Because my dad's recipe is amazing, that's why.

I'm letting you in on a family secret, and possibly the best rotkraut (red cabbage) you will ever try!

Presenting my dad's rotkraut with chesnuts:

Chesnut bacon rotkraut
Servings: 10
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 h 45 min

30 chesnuts
2 tbsp oil
1/2 lb bacon, in chunks
6 medium onions, julienned
2 green apples, peeled and in chunks
3 red cabbage heads, sliced
1 bottle red wine (for cooking)
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a cast iron pot (or any pot) roast the chesnuts until some spots are blackened. Let cool a bit and peel.

In a very large pan, add oil, bacon, salt and pepper. Cook on high heat until the bacon is crispy, then add the onion with more salt and pepper to taste. Cook together until onions are caramelized, about 7-10 minutes. When done, add the apple chunks, 1 tbsp sugar and 1/3 of the wine. Finally add the chesnuts and combine everything well. Let cook for about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium. Now we'll add the cabbage in 3 stages. Add about 1/3 of the sliced cabbage, 1/3 of the remaining wine, salt and pepper. Cover and let reduce for 3 minutes. Uncover and stir well. Repeat this process until all the cabbage has been added and let simmer for 15 minutes. Then add red wine vinegar and remaining sugar. Feel free to add more salt or pepper as needed and stir well.

Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Let the cabbage cook for about 2 hours, watching the liquid occasionally. If too much evaporates, add more water or wine to make sure it doesn't burn.

That's it! Serve hot with pork and späzle.

If you don't serve the whole thing at once, you can store it in glass jars while hot and reheat when needed. Without any fancy sealing, they will keep for about 1 month in the fridge.

The cabbage cooked in this fashion has many layers of taste, ultimately more sweet than sour. The chesnuts absorb the wine and bacon flavor, adding a delicious crunchy factor. This is a family staple, it is a lot of work but definitely worth it!

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