Braised Red Cabbage

This is now a standard accompaniment for Christmas dinner in my house – but it’s delicious any time of year. (Although, who buys port except at Christmas time?)

My 1980s-vintage Good Housekeeping Cookbook’s instructions were the jumping-off point, but I’ve added home-made jam and totally changed the spicing/sugar/vinegars.

Serves: 8 – 10


  • 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced thickly (or, 2 small red onions)
  • 40g butter – use margarine to keep it vegan
  • 1 small red cabbage (approx 1 kg), cored and shredded: 1/2 finely, 1/2 slightly thicker slices
  • 1 large Bramley or other cooking apple, cored and chopped into chunks (no need to peel)
  • 3 heaped dessert spoonfuls of dark sugar (ideally soft dark brown, dark muscavado, or molasses sugar)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground mace or nutmeg (about 4 seconds’ grating of fresh nutmeg)
  • 150ml vinegar (see footnote)
  • 150ml port
  • 2-3 tablespoons cranberry compote, orange marmalade, or other jam (optional)


  • One large (stock-sized), heavy-bottomed pot with lid
  • Chopping board and sharp knife


  1. Soften the sliced onion in the butter (or margarine) on a medium-low heat in a large covered pot on the hob, about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  2. Turn up the heat to high, add the shredded cabbage, and sauté for 5 minutes or so, mixing it around continuously and ensuring all of the cabbage gets in contact with the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to mix thoroughly.
  4. Turn down the heat to low (ideally, move the pot to the smallest ring at the lowest setting), and leave to cook with the lid on for about 1 hour, stirring well every 10 minutes or so. If it appears quite liquid on the bottom after 45 minutes, take the lid off for the remaining time. The cabbage should be tender-crisp, so take off the heat immediately if it starts to become too floppy.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving, although you can leave it in if storing in the fridge in a suitable sealed container (this will keep well over a week).

I use a combo of approx. 50% red wine, 25% balsamic, and 25% sherry vinegars. But it’s absolutely fine with solely red wine vinegar. I was lucky enough this year to have rhubarb vinegar from a local supplier, which replaced my usual balsamic quite nicely.