I'd had it in the back of my mind that it would be interesting to work with cranberries a little, over this Christmas period. I had never tussled with the little lovelies before, yet I know for sure that Cranberry Juice is one of the family favourites (as and when we can find some that's affordable or not sweetened with Aspartame), so there was no reason to believe we wouldn't like them.
Hence, when I spotted the recipe for "Red cabbage with balsamic vinegar & cranberries" (ridiculously long name!) in the Christmas edition of Good Food Magazine, it was a definite "cut out and keep" moment.
I'm not sure which thought came first, the "I should make Corned Beef Pie" or the "I should make the Red Cabbage & Cranberries - Corned Beef Pie will go well with it" thought. I suspect that they happened around the same time, as I seem to have been pairing them up in my mind since that moment.
As red cabbage and cranberries are both good from an anti-inflammatory point of view, I was even keener to make this dish.
It really is simplicity personified to make. It's a one-pot, on the hob, no fuss series of ingredients being included and stirred. I will admit to tinkering about with it slightly, in that I completely abhor the flavour of cloves for some reason, so I included caraway seeds instead. Caraway is a perfectly compatible flavour, but if you prefer cloves, then by all means swap it back!
I loved the end result. It did indeed go extremely well with the Corned Beef Pie, in that the sweetness from the fruit and balsamic was a perfect foil for the chilli heat involved with the pie. I've got to say that, even when I ate the remainder for lunch the following day - cold, with the remains of the Corned Beef Pie - it was just as lovely. I'm thinking that, cold, it would make a gorgeous barbecue side dish for those balmy evenings we're supposed to get, come summer!
RED CABBAGE WITH CRANBERRIES (serves 4)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp caraway seeds (or ground cloves, if you prefer)
Half a red cabbage, quartered cored and thinly sliced
100ml vegetable stock
1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
50g brown sugar
100g fresh cranberries.
1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and fry on a low to medium heat, stirring every now and then for around 10 minutes or until they start to caramelise.
2. Stir in the caraway seeds (or cloves) then add the cabbage and continue cooking, stirring more frequently to distribute the cabbage evenly across the pan and prevent burning, until the cabbage has started to soften.
3. Pour in the stock, add the vinegar and sugar, then cover and cook for 10 minutes. You may need to give it all a stir or two around the end of the cooking time, just to check how the liquid levels are doing.
4. Stir in the cranberries and cook for another 10 minutes. You may need to add a little more water, if the pan appears to be going dry.
5. Once the cranberries are softened and beginning to burst, remove from the heat and season to taste.