Monday, December 5, 2011

Southern-Style Fried Cabbage

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

Southern-Style Fried Cabbage


We southerners know this dish as "fried" cabbage, even though it's actually more of a mixture of skillet sautéing, braising and pan frying, alternating between being fried and cooked low and simmered in its own juices. 

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." I have a beautiful cast iron, deep chicken fryer that I love using for this. 

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 let it fry in the drippings for a few minutes, then cover it so it becomes mostly tender, and then uncover it, adding a splash of cider vinegar and red pepper flakes, and letting it finish frying to the desired caramelization and tenderness. That can vary from person to person as some folks like their cabbage a tender crisp, others like it very soft and others like it very darkly caramelized.

Since the bacon is used more as a seasoning for me, I only use a few slices, but some folks use as much as a full package, so certainly use as much as you like. I do like to add in some butter too at the end, 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 (or smothered 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. Neither The Cajun nor I care a whole lot for a full brisket of corned beef, so that satisfies my craving.

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. 

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.

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut in half and slice across.


Chop into large pieces.


Chop the bacon and cook in the bottom of a deep lidded pot until the fat is rendered. You can leave the bacon in or to avoid burning it, remove bacon and set aside.


Add 1 tablespoon of additional bacon drippings or butter to the pot drippings. Add the onion.


Sauté 2 minutes.


Add the cabbage, salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. 


Increase heat to medium high and let cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes uncovered.


Cover, reduce to medium low and cook for 10 minutes longer, again without stirring.


Uncover, increase heat to medium high and add reserved bacon back to pot if you removed it, remaining butter, cider vinegar and red pepper flakes if using; stir.


Continue cooking, uncovered, until cabbage reaches desired tenderness and begins to caramelize to desired color, about 15 to 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Total cooking time will depend on how you like your cabbage. Some folks like it crisp tender, others prefer it much more soft. 

Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve as a side dish, along with some skillet cornbread.


For more of my favorite southern recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!



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Posted by on December 5, 2011
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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.
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