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We are probably peasants at heart. I think only peasants like cabbage as much as we do.
I’m okay with that though. Peasants get to hang out in cozy houses at the end of a long winter day and eat homey stuff like this Sweet and Smokey Braised Cabbage.
I can’t remember where I got the recipe that was the original inspiration for this dish. It seems as though one of Larry’s sisters or perhaps his Mom, found it in the local paper, but I’m not certain. The original was a lot simpler in terms of seasoning, but the fast and easy preparation hasn’t changed. And it is adaptable – if you don’t like peppers or onions, then leave them out, and you can switch around the seasonings to suit your taste. It’s your food, make it the way you like it!
A braise is a cooking method that involves two different stages. First the food is seasoned and browned over high heat, then it’s simmered in a liquid with lower heat, either on top of the stove or in the oven. Typically used to cook tougher cuts of meat, it also works very well for a robust vegetable like cabbage, which will stand up well to the longer cooking time required to get a deep rich flavor.
This really just a barbecue sauce of sorts, so if you aren’t into making your own, or you don’t have all these ingredients on hand, you can easily sub in bottled barbecue sauce. Let it cook awhile, taste it and see if you need to add more sweetness, or spice or whatever.
We like the homemade sauce though, and that too can be adjusted to suit what you have on hand.
Sweet and Smokey Braised Cabbage
- 2 tablespoons bacon drippings [or olive oil]
- About 2 pounds green cabbage sliced into thin strips
- 1 medium onion peeled and cut into strips
- 1 sweet green pepper core and pith removed, cut into strips
- 1 sweet red or yellow pepper core and pith removed, cut into strips
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce or siracha
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- 20 grinds black pepper
- Over medium high heat, melt the bacon drippings and get a large, heavy saute pan, or medium dutch oven heated up.
- Add the cabbage, onion and peppers.
- Sprinkle the salt evenly over the top, and saute, uncovered, over pretty high heat, stirring every few minutes, until the cabbage begins to wilt, and gets some brown spots on it here and there - about 10 minutes or so.
- Reduce the heat, and add all of the remaining ingredients. If you prefer things sweeter, use the smaller amount of vinegar, and the hot sauce is up to you - if your family doesn't like spice, you can leave it out or reduce it - I usually use about double the amount stated, but we like things spicy. You can stir all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl if you like, but I don't usually bother.
- Stir well to get everything combined, and cover the pan.
- Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring a couple times. You can go as long as an hour if you want a little less crunch.
- Serve hot, and refrigerate leftovers. Really good reheated.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.
It’s a perfect side with everything from burgers to roast chicken, and it makes a lot, so it’s really good to take to church suppers or dish-to-pass meals. The leftovers are even better reheated too – a family of 4 would probably get a couple meals from this, so great to have on hand for a busy weeknight dinner.