Sunday, 18 November 2012

Recipe LXXX - Czech-style Braised Red Cabbage with Roast Pork, Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

On 28th December, I will be returning to my true home, the place I feel most like me, the place that loves me like a favourite aunt, Prague. I will only be there for six days, but the knowledge I will return to Base Camp is what keeps me going every day through the dark hours. The Czech Republic is one of Europe's best-kept secrets when it comes to food. I decided to recreate one of the dishes that will fill my stomach when I arrive.

Ingredients for the cabbage:
1 red cabbage
1 piece of fennel, sliced, but not too small
10 peppercorns
2 apples, chopped
1 onion, cut into rings
1 glass cherry schnapps
1 litre beef stock, warmed up
1 knob of butter
(Sultanas are also good with this dish! You are also welcome to add other things that would suit it: red onions or shallots, parsnip, pumpkin,  whatever...)

Take a large saucepan and melt some butter in the bottom on a medium-low heat. Add the fennel, a little salt and stir until it sweats. Then the onions and peppercorns. Finally, add the apples 2 minutes before you put in the red cabbage. Stir continuously.

Add the cabbage and continue stirring for a good 5 minutes. This allows the vegetables to get softer without burning.

Put in a good 20cl of fruit schnapps. I used cherry, as it's also a red fruit. Allow it to bubble in the bottom, then continue stirring.

Add the beef stock and put on the lid. Turn the heat right down and allow everything to run for as long as two hours, always checking the liquid level. With the right saucepan, nothing should escape, and you should end up with a truly delicious jus.

I served it with roast pork belly with crackling, roast carrots and Brussels sprouts.

To get a hard roast pork skin:
All you need to do is put the oven on at a low 150°C, cut your pork skin at each end a couple of gashes (this hardens it more easily), not forgetting to rub salt over it, baste your pork in the oil, put the pork in the baking tray with the skin facing upwards, leave some butter on top of it and allow it to melt in the oven. After 45 minutes, you can add the sliced carrots and baste the pork a little more. After an hour, turn the heat up to 200°C. For extra crackliness to the skin, spread some honey or caramel on it 10 minutes before removing it from the oven.

To get a tasty Brussels sprout:
After boiling in salt water, pour out the water and put a knob of butter in the pan. Once sizzling, add the sprouts, stirring constantly. Put in some ground black pepper and grate some nutmeg over it.

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