How to make fried cabbage and bacon. Expect perfectly crisp-tender texture and a lot of flavor.
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- Read on for relevant information and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
Fried Cabbage and Bacon – A Classic Partnership
Cabbage and bacon have a natural affinity for each other. With the exception of salt and vinegar bacon may be the most compatible addition to any recipe involving white or green cabbage. The umami and smoky notes it adds create a delicious combination.
This fried cabbage and bacon recipe brings out the sweetness of the cruciferous vegetable as it softens it. At the same time a level of crispness to its texture is maintained. The result is a cabbage dish with a considerable degree of lightness and mouthwatering flavor nuances. You can influence the taste profile by fine tuning the spices added – see our suggestions above the recipe card below.
You Will Need
Cabbage. For best results use white, green or red cabbage, not savoy or napa. Quarter the cabbage, then core it and slice it thin.
Bacon.Use thick cut hickory or applewood smoked bacon. Slice it in strips that are not too thin, but not too wide either so it can render its fat easier.
Other. A yellow or a sweet onion for savory notes; brown sugar and sherry or apple cider vinegar for sweetness and acidity; caraway seed for its unique nuttiness. Be prepared to season generously with coarse salt, cabbage can take it on easily.
TIP: Spices, herbs and aromatics complementary to cabbage include paprika, black or white pepper, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, juniper berrries, cumin, savory, thyme, parsley, black mustard seeds, dill and garlic among others. If caraway seed is not your thing, substitute with one of these or a combination, to taste. Or if you really like caraway you can always add a bit more (a mixture of ground and whole seeds works well).
Prep. Before you begin cooking be sure that all your ingredients are prepared for the recipe’s requirements – onions and cabbage are thinly sliced, the bacon is cut into strips, the brown sugar has been dissolved into the vinegar.
Process. The fat the bacon renders is the foundation of the flavor profile for the dish, but is usually too much. This is especially true if you choose to increase the specified amount. You will have to remove most of it from the pot or pan, but leave enough to cook the onion and reserve some to cook the shredded cabbage itself. Any excess you can discard or save for another recipe (skillet seared scalloped potatoes for example).
Be ready to add a bit of water to the pot after you add the onions, just like you would if you were caramelizing them.
TIP: To amplify the overall taste you can use a flavorful lager like dopplebock instead of water while cooking the onions or substitute with chicken or beef stock.
- This dish is delicious on its own as a lighter meal, but to make it just a bit more substantial we like to add a fried egg or two, sprinkled with paprika.
- Top a bowl of rice with some fried cabbage and bacon and drizzle it with a bit of soy sauce, maye a bit of your favorite hot sauce and voila – another simple but fulfilling dish.
- Serve it alongside skillet sausages, pork chops, pork roasts, pork belly, ham, salmon, corned beef, roast chicken… and many more proteins.
What to do with leftovers
Leftover fried cabbage and bacon reheats beautifully in a skillet over medium heat. You may want to add a knob of butter to the frying pan for extra flavor and also to create a nice caramelization. Sometimes the reheated version seems to taste even better than the just prepared dish!
Try folding the reheated cabbage into mashed potatoes for a Colcannon inspired dish.
Finally, it makes a wonderful filling for savory strudels like this one or Asian style fried rolls.
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- 8 oz thick cut bacon (4-6 slices)
- 1 small head cabbage (white or green)
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 tsp caraway seeds (or to taste)
- 1 tsp coarse salt (ot to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
- 3 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp apple cider or sherry vinegar
- Prepare the ingredients: cut the bacon into strips; halve then thinly slice the onion; quarter and core the cabbage, then slice it thinly; add the brown sugar to the vinegar and stir until it has dissolved.
- Over medium-high heat In a pot or deep pan for which you have a lid (and large enough to fit the cabbage) cook the bacon until it is crispy. Transfer it to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Reserve 1 tbsp (or a tad bit more) of the rendered fat; leave about 1/2 tbsp in the pot and remove the rest of the fat.
- Still at medium-high cook the onion in the 1/2 tbsp bacon fat you left in the pot. Add a bit of water as needed to prevent it from burning. When soft and lightly browned add the caraway seed, stir and cook for another minute. Remove the onion from the pot and set aside.
- Add the reserved 1 tbsp bacon fat to the now empty pot/pan. When heated add all the cabbage and season it with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes or until it has wilted and has browned at the bottom.
- Remove the lid, stir and continue to cook uncovered until the cabbage becomes crisp-tender (about 4 to 6 minutes). Stir it once or twice, there will be browned shreds throughout.
- Take the pot away from the heat and stir in the brown sugar & vinegar mixture, the onion and the bacon. Taste, adjust the seasonings and serve.
See the post for ideas on spices and herbs compatible with cabbage in case you want to substitute the caraway seeds or add more flavors.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 639mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 13g
Based on 6 servings as a side.