Remember my last post? The one with the Semmelknödel, where I told you I wasn't an expert in cooking dumplings? Well, I am definitely an expert in cooking Blaukraut (not that I'm gloating here). Blaukraut literally translates into "blue cabbage" and the name is mainly used in southern Germany. Most areas in Germany though either call this Rotkraut or Rotkohl which means "red cabbage". I've been cooking Blaukraut for probably 20 years and by now I don't even need a recipe anymore. I usually don't measure my ingredients and know exactly just what and how much to add to achieve a consistent tasting cabbage each and every time. However, just for you, my wonderful blog readers, I had my kitchen helper (my daughter) write down everything I did as I went along.
Most Americans are familiar with Sauerkraut and while we Germans do tend to eat that a lot (and no, we don't wear "Lederhosen" all day long), Blaukraut is cooked just as often and is another treasured German recipe that most families cook quite frequently. Blaukraut is so versatile and can be served alongside many dishes like German dumplings, Spaetzle, or mashed potatoes. In restaurants it is a given that it is served with Sauerbraten, venison, boar and goose. I've always loved Blaukraut and we had it a lot growing up since red cabbage was bountiful every year from my parent's and grandparent's vegetable gardens. Cabbage tends to be ready for harvest in the fall and we mostly ate this throughout the colder months. My mom would cook several cabbage heads at a time and freeze the leftovers, which works beautifully.
Cooking Blaukraut is fairly easy as long as you consider a few simple steps. You can shred the cabbage by hand, but if your knife skills aren't that great, go ahead and use a mandolin or the shredding blade of a food processor which will always give you consistent results. I find it also very important to "layer" my cabbage while cooking it. 2-3 layers are sufficient and each layer will receive lots of love from the ingredients, which will ensure a great tasting side dish. Not many ingredients are needed, but it does call for vegetable bouillon cubes which impart great flavor. A good tasting sweet apple (like pink lady) is also important, and while I love Granny Smith for most of my baking, they are too tart for this recipe. Last, but certainly not least, a little bit of a good tasting red wine is added (do not use cooking wine!) which along with the vinegar doesn't add flavor, but also helps preserve the beautiful color of the cabbage.
This time around I served the Blaukraut with my German Sauerbraten and Semmelknödel, but it is a wonderful side dish that is tasty alongside all kinds of meals and goes extremely well with a beef pot roast. My family (including the kids) love this recipe and so has every guest that has ever had it served in our house. I know, strong statement, but it is just that good!
Blaukraut (German Red Cabbage)
(adapted from "my family")
1 medium head red cabbage, shredded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
Kosher Salt and Pepper
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the 1/3 cup of red wine. Add 1/2 of the shredded cabbage, 1/2 of the apple, 1 bouillon cube, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Repeat the layer adding the other half of the ingredients in the same fashion.
Give a quick stir, cover and simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes or until the cabbage is soft. At this point stir, taste for seasonings and adjust if a little more salt and pepper is needed.