Monday, December 5, 2011

Southern Fried Cabbage

Southern fried cabbage is a very simple cabbage dish prepared often as here, with a bit of butter, bacon & onion. I like to add cider vinegar and dried pepper flakes for a little extra flavor punch.
Southern fried cabbage is a very simple cabbage dish prepared often as here, with a bit of butter, bacon & onion. I like to add cider vinegar and dried pepper flakes for a little extra flavor punch.

Southern Fried Cabbage

We southerners know this dish as "fried" cabbage, even though it's usually a mixture of sautéing, and braising or stewing, being cooked low and simmered in its own juices, rather than being flash fried. I imagine a lot of folks raised outside of The South associate the words "southern" and "fried" to always mean something that is deep fried in a huge vat of boiling oil, like our fabulous fried chicken, for instance. Surely these people must think we crazy southerners deep fry some odd things - like cabbage and fried corn and fried apples, to name a few.

What they don't realize is that the term often represents different things, and very often, simply the tool used, more so than the actual method or process. In many cases it's referring to the cooking of something in a skillet - or what we call a frying pan - and so, we call the dish "fried."

We southerners are a funny lot aren't we?

I prefer to render out some bacon with my fried cabbage, then cook a bit of onion in that before adding in the cabbage and simple seasonings of salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. After that, I cover and let it braise for 30 minutes, adding a splash of cider vinegar and red pepper flakes just before serving. Since the bacon is used more as a seasoning for me, I only use a few slices, but certainly use as much as you like. I do like to add in some butter too though since it adds a great flavor to the cabbage.

I love this dish so much, that despite the fact that I've purchased a head of cabbage multiple times with the intention of making one particular recipe to post, I keep using it for fried cabbage time and again instead. I love the stuff, so what can I say? Another favorite of mine is to add a can of corned beef for what I call Shortcut Corned Beef and Cabbage. This last head of cabbage was so huge, it was like getting a 2-for-1 deal, so I also used a bit of it to make a wonderful pot of soup during that last blast of cold air that flowed through here a week or so ago. I've been dealing with computer gremlins the past couple of weeks, but hopefully I'll be posting that recipe soon, assuming technology cooperates, since the weather appears that it will switch from flip flops to winter again in just a few days. Gotta love The South!

While fried cabbage is technically a side dish, frankly I can make it a main dish meal and often do, since The Cajun isn't all that interested in cabbage. I can barely manage to sneak it in on him in soups, but considering that he ate three large bowls of that soup I made, I am grateful that we have at least progressed to that! Here's how to make this delicious southern favorite.

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Recipe: Southern Fried Cabbage

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 40 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, divided
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 medium to large head of cabbage, chopped (about 10 to 12 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, optional
  • Dash dried red pepper flakes, optional

Chop the bacon and cook in the bottom of a shallow pot until the fat is rendered. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the onion and saute about 4 minutes. Add a splash of water to the bottom of the pot to deglaze the browned bits in the bottom. Add half the cabbage, salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning, and stir. Add the remaining cabbage, stir, reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until cabbage reaches the desired consistency, stirring several times. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cider vinegar; continue cooking until cabbage begins to caramelize, if desired, otherwise, taste and adjust salt and pepper, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using. Serve as a side dish, along with some skillet cornbread.

Variations: Substitute a good andouille or smoked sausage, or ham, sliced or chopped, for the bacon. Can also add in chopped fresh tomatoes or one can of stewed tomatoes, cut up, to the cabbage. I just use my kitchen shears to cut them up right in the can. Can also use one can of Rotel or regular diced tomatoes, and add about 1/2 of a green pepper, chopped with the onion, if desired.

Instant Pot: Prepare as above except add a tablespoon of butter to the pot with the bacon. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth or water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Add half of the cabbage and seasonings; toss to coat and allow to cook down slightly. Add remaining cabbage and vinegar; toss and add another 1/2 cup chicken broth/water, seal and set for 3 minutes manually. Quick release, add remaining butter, taste, adjust salt if needed and add red pepper flakes; toss.

Sweet and Sour Green Cabbage: Prepare as above, except increase apple cider vinegar to 1/4 cup, whisking in 1/4 cup light brown sugar and a couple dashes of Worcestershire, low sodium soy sauce and hot sauce. Stir into the cabbage the last 10 minutes of cooking time.


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©Deep South Dish
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