Braised Red Cabbage. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Braised Red Cabbage. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

All Photos: Wendy Goodfriend

I’ve always loved the sweet and sour braised red cabbage you get in German restaurants, but I never considered making it at home until I met my British husband and started frequenting the UK more often (cabbage actually comes from Britain). There, in the deep, dark winter months, they serve it alongside braised sausages, slow-roasted meats, and pillowy piles of mash. Helllooo?! I came home one year and was determined to come up with my own version; one that had all the layers of flavor and nuances of the versions I’d tried across the pond.

This is my special holiday version. It feels warm and cozy and a bit spruced up. If you want to make a simpler version, just omit the chestnuts, swap out the pancetta for bacon, and leave off the fresh parsley garnish. It is great alongside turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, providing the perfect sweet-tart counterpoint, but you can also serve this up with sausages, roast chicken, seared lamb chops, or roast pork tenderloin. Sometimes I even just stand there at my fridge and eat it semi-respectfully from the bowl (as opposed to my toddler who merely shovels it into her mouth with her hands, declaring it “nummy” after each and every bite).

Ingredients for Braised Red Cabbage. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Ingredients for Braised Red Cabbage. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Recipe: Braised Red Cabbage

Serves 4–6

Olive oil
3–4 thin slices pancetta, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
About 8 oz cooked, peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped*
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 tart baking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 small red cabbage, outer leaves and core removed, sliced
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Pour a glug of olive oil into a large, heavy Dutch oven or an ovenproof saucepan and warm it over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until golden. Add the butter, chestnuts, sherry, and apples. Stir to combine then let sizzle for a few minutes. Add the cabbage, a few healthy glugs of balsamic (maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup or so), and season with salt and pepper. Stir everything together so that the cabbage is evenly coated. Cover and bake, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is nice and tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a little water or broth if the cabbage starts to dry out, you want it to remain nice and moist. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

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*A note on chestnuts: If you are determined to roast or boil your own fresh chestnuts and then peel them, good on you. After many years of attempting this, and now that I have a kid, I cannot be bothered. I love the vacuum-sealed precooked, pre-peeled versions, which I think are just as good…in fact, no, they are better because I don’t have to do anything!

Thanksgiving Side Dish: The Sweet-Tart Tang of Braised Red Cabbage 28 October,2015Kim Laidlaw


Kim Laidlaw

Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook author, editor, food writer, producer, project manager, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has over 16 years of experience in book and online publishing, and a lifetime of experience in the kitchen.

Her first cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, was published in 2011; her second cookbook, Baby & Toddler On the Go, was published in April 2013; and her third cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, was published in October 2013.

She was the first blogger on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005, and previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives in Petaluma with her husband and their child, whom she cooks for everyday. Find out more at


Wendy Goodfriend

I am the Senior Interactive Producer for KQED Food. I have designed and produced food-related websites and blogs for KQED including Bay Area Bites; Check, Please! Bay Area;  Taste This; Jacques Pepin’s websites; Weir Cooking in the City and KQED Food. When I am not creating and managing food websites I am taking photos and video of Bay Area Life and designing online navigation systems. My professional education and training includes: clinical psychology, photography, commercial cooking, web design, information architecture and UX. You can find me engaged in social media on Twitter @bayareabites and on Facebook at Bay Area Bites. I can also be found photoblogging at look2remember.

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