Rødkål

Rødkål is braised red cabbage which is served as an accompaniment to roast meats. It’s eaten in the Nordic countries- Denmark, Norway and Sweden- all year round, but is particularly popular at Christmas.

Preparation time: 5 minutesCooking time: 65 minutes
Serves: 10 (as a side)Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1kg/35 oz/a moderately large head of red cabbage
  • 50g/2 oz/3 full tablespoons of butter or duck fat
  • 200ml/2dl/⅓ pt/just under a cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 200ml/2dl/⅓ pt/just under a cup of redcurrant juice, or 100ml of redcurrant jelly dissolved in 100ml of water
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground allspice

Make it vegan: ensure you use a vegan brand of butter, or replace it with margarine.

Special Equipment

  • A sharp knife
  • A large saucepan with a lid

Method

  1. Finely cut the cabbage with a sharp knife and pop it in the saucepan with the butter. Set it on the hob over a medium heat and allow the cabbage to sauté for two or three minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the vinegar and salt to the pan and allow the cabbage to cook for two or three more minutes, or until it has withered slightly.
  3. Finally, add the redcurrant juice, sugar and allspice to the pan and stir everything together.
  4. Cover the pan with the lid and turn the heat down to low. Cook the Rødkål for an hour, stirring it every once in a while while it cooks. Then remove from the heat and serve immediately.
  5. Velbekomme!

Tips

  • Rødkål should be served as an accompaniment to roast meats or meatballs.
  • If desired, you can substitute the allspice with bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and/or pepper.
  • If you aren’t a fan of vinegar, halve the amount used and substitute it with some extra redcurrant juice.
  • You can also add some sliced apple to the red cabbage to make Rødkål med Abler.

Background

Home: Denmark, Norway, Sweden

Pronunciation: (Roeth-khoel)

Relatives: Rotkhol (Germany), Sauerkraut (Germany), Braised Red Cabbage (UK), Coleslaw (Netherlands)

History

In Denmark Christmas is celebrated from the beginning of Advent through to the end of December. The country’s festive traditions derive from the ancient pagan Norse Jul/Yule celebrations, which were blended with Christian Christmas celebrations after Denmark converted in the 11th century.

The main festive celebrations are held on Juleaften (Christmas Eve), which is preceded by Lillejuleaften (Little Christmas Eve) and followed by a Familiejulefrokost (Family Yule Lunch) on Christmas Day. On the evening of Juleaften Danes eat a large Christmas dinner consisting of roast pork, duck or goose, accompanied by caremalized potatoes, gravy and Rødkål (lit. ‘red cabbage’). This is followed by Risalamande (rice pudding) and Kirsebærsovs (cherry sauce).

Rødkål is an essential part of the meal. It’s also eaten throughout the year as an accompaniment to Frikadeller (meatballs), Flæskesteg (roast pork with crackling) and Smørrebrød (an open sandwich), and can be eaten hot or cold.

Glade Jul by Danish artist Viggo Johansen

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