Happy Thanksgiving folks! In honor of today (and of the fact that the cabbage I made is the best I've made in a long time), here's the cabbage recipe from my Grandpa Pete.
Grandpa Pete’s Red Cabbage
1 large head of cabbage
1 large onion
4 tbsp. pork drippings or lard
4 slices of bacon
¼ c. dry red wine or vinegar (or both)
salt and pepper to taste
hard pinch of thyme
1 or 2 cloves
1 tbsp sugar (you can eliminate if the apples are sweet)
Wash the cabbage and slice it very thinly. The easiest was to do this is to quarter it, remove the thickest part of the stalk and slice it with a very sharp knife. You obtain what seems an unbelievable amount of cabbage, but it will cook down amazingly!
Peel and slice the apples and chop the onions. Heat the pork drippings or lard in a large heavy pot with a good lid. Add the onions and apples and cook until the onion is transparent and the apples soft. Add the bacon, cut into small pieces, and the cabbage. Keep stirring it into the hot fat until you get it all in. Pour in the wine, season with salt and pepper and a small pinch of thyme, also a big hard pinch of caraway seeds, if you like (I think it belongs). Drop in the bay leave and the cloves. If you are very particular you can put these in a little piece of cheesecloth so you can find them later on, or you can substitute powdered clove.
Cover and cook over a very low fire. At first the cabbage will render quite a bit of juice! Do not add any water. When it cooks down and the cabbage seems to be getting dry, add water sparingly just enough to bathe the bottom of the pot. The fat will keep the cabbage from burning. Just keep on cooking it stirring it once in a while to mix well for 2 hours. At that time, the cabbage is beginning to get good. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary and about 1 tablespoon of sugar. To get the cabbage to the peek of perfection, however, you should now refrigerate it until the next day.
Then cook it again for at least another hour, adding only enough water to prevent burning. If you are cooking a pork roast to go with you can add a little of the pork drippings to the cabbage.
Red cabbage goes fine with Roast Pork, fresh Ham, Turkey, Game, duck also if you have a Roast Pork sandwich, a little left over Cabbage, if you heat it a bit, is most delicious on top of the pork without drying it.
I don’t use lard. Instead, I chop up 6-8 slices of bacon and render that down and then add the onion and apples. I stay away from the vinegar and usually end up using about 1 c. of Port (or another hearty red wine). I add the caraway seeds and use about 12-15 cloves (add 8-12 the first day and the rest the second) and 2-3 bay leaves. I use both black and white pepper to taste (you can skip this if you use Kunzler pepper bacon).
If you use the entire head of cabbage, this will make about a gallon of cabbage once it's cooked down. That's plenty for the holiday table (of 8-12) plus enough for leftovers.