Rauðkál (Icelandic Pickled Red Cabbage)

1 head red cabbage, cored and sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large stick cinnamon
2 whole star anise

Place ingredients in a lidded pot. Bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes or until fully wilted and soft, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon stick and star anise and discard. If liquid remains, bring to a boil until it evaporates. Cool then refrigerate. Serve chilled.

My thoughts:

Over the years we’ve gone to a number of Scandinavian holiday events; Swedish, Finnish, Danish and then this year, Icelandic! It is a lot of fun to try food that we normally can’t get (Icelandic hot dogs and lamb!) and I normally come away with some ideas of how to make some holiday foods at home. I’ve made quite a few Swedish dishes over the years but Icelandic was new to me. In Iceland, it seems, a lot of red cabbage is grown for Jóla (Christmas) dinner. It is quick-pickled and served along side hangikjöt (smoked lamb) wild game, potatoes and other dishes. While some Icelandic ingredients are tricky to get a hold of (I have the Icelandic hot dogs but no condiments!) red cabbage is plentiful this time of year here as well. It seemed an obvious choice! This cabbage is similar to a lot of sweet and sour cabbage dishes across Europe but somewhat unusually spiced with star anise and cinnamon. The result: a pickled cabbage dish that really tastes of the holidays! I served it with pork as I don’t have hangikjöt but it would be great with ham, turkey or chicken as well.

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