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German Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage was served often during the winter in my childhood home. Mom, being German, made it pretty much the same way all the time, with minor variances. Cabbage, bacon fat, apples, onions, red wine vinegar, sugar…you know, sweet and sour along with some savory elements. Mom didn’t cook her cabbage to death either, leaving it with just a bit of textured crunchiness. It’s all good stuff.
Everyone use to keep their bacon fat.
In a small container, in the refrigerator.
Bacon fat could be used to flavor all kinds of dishes without actually having to buy and cook up bacon. All the flavor, none of the work. No one keeps bacon fat anymore.
Well, almost no one. I do. But then, I’m odd that way.
When I tell people I save bacon fat, chicken fat, and duck fat, they think I’m a crazy lady. But seriously, fat is fat. Calorie for calorie it’s all the same. 100 calories per tablespoon. It’s just a matter of how much is saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. Bacon fat obviously has more saturated fat than does olive oil, or another vegetable oil, but they obviously don’t have the same flavor as bacon fat. So while I’m not advocating that you use bacon fat on a regular basis, sometimes, it’s a good “go to” fat. And if you glance over at the nutritional information I’ve provided, you can see there is a total of 2g of fat in this dish. In total. So what the heck, you may as well add the bacon fat. If you don’t have a container in your refrigerator and you wanted the bacon flavor, you could fry up a few slices of bacon, remove it from the pan, and then just use the pan drippings to sauté the vegetables to add that depth of flavor…or you could use butter (also a saturated fat) or heck, go ahead and use that olive oil or coconut oil. It just won’t have that smoky bacony goodness.
It will still be good. Honest. I’ve made my sweet and sour cabbage with and without. I prefer with. But it’s good without.
Without also keeps it vegetarian.
So let’s make some now…
Mix the cabbage, sugar, and vinegar together in a large bowl. Set aside.In a large sauté pan with a lid, melt the bacon fat (or butter, or oil, or combination of all or any) until hot, add the apples and onions and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage mixture along with the wine, spices and a large pinch of salt; cover; reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, taste and adjust vinegar and sugar levels if needed; then increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. (If you like your cabbage more well done, then cover and cook until it's done to your liking before you cook off the additional liquids). Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, remove the bay leaf pieces and serve.
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