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Two different ways with seasonal red cabbage - both perfect to cheer up a wintery meal and super for Christmas entertaining. The first, braised red cabbage is very traditional at this time of year. It looks so rich and colourful and it's mildly spicy, sweet-sour taste goes beautifully with rich meats such as roast pork, lamb, duck, goose, ham and even turkey! The second recipe, a wonderful winter coleslaw which is subtly flavoured with one of my favourite herbs - delicate aniseedy tarragon. The colour and crunchiness of raw, shredded red cabbage, together with jewel-like dried cranberries, makes it especially festive.

Happy Christmas. E.L.

Braised red cabbage (Serves 6-8)

25g butter, plus a knob
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small red cabbage (approx. 750g) shredded or cut into chunks
1 tart eating apple, cored and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves
3 allspice or juniper berries
a bay leaf
2 tsps muscovado sugar
2-3 tblsps good quality balsamic vinegar
½ vegetable stock cube, crumbled
a good grinding of black pepper
150ml water


Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Soften in the butter for a few minutes, then stir cabbage and apple. Sauté for a minute or two until shiny and well coated. Add spices, sugar, vinegar, stock cube, pepper and water, then lower the heat, cover and cook slowly for about 45 minutes.

Check the seasoning, adding more vinegar or sugar, if needed, and cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the cabbage is as soft as you like it. Stir through a knob of butter before serving.
Red cabbage, apple and walnut slaw (Serves 6-8)

3 tbsps white wine vinegar
9 tbsps walnut or olive oil
salt and black pepper
4 sprigs tarragon, roughly chopped
4 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped
1 eating apple, cored and cut into match sticks
1 small red cabbage (approx. 750g), shredded
50g walnuts pieces
50g dried cranberries


Mix the vinegar, oil, seasoning and herbs in a large bowl. Prepare the apple and toss in the dressing. Add the cabbage, walnuts and cranberries and mix it all well. Adjust seasoning.

Venison Steaks with Sour Cherry Sauce (Serves 4)
4 x 120g venison steaks
salt and pepper
olive oil
4 banana shallots
For the sour cherry sauce:
2 fat cloves garlic, finely grated
75g dried cherries
200ml red wine
200ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tblsp redcurrant jelly
1 tbslp soy sauce
zest of one large orange
sprig of thyme
To serve:
creamy mashed potatoes
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
Place the venison steaks on a plate and season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature. Peel the shallots and cut in half lengthways.

Prepare the sauce. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and gently fry the grated garlic. Do not allow it to brown. Add all the other sauce ingredients and simmer gently until slightly reduced. Remove the sprig of thyme and set the sauce aside.

Heat a large skillet or frying pan and add a little olive oil. Place the shallots flat side down in the hot pan and cook until golden brown, then turn them over and push them to the side of the pan. Add a little more oil to the pan then add the venison steaks and cook on a high heat for 1-2 minutes, turning the steaks to brown on each side. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking for a further 3-4 minutes, turning the steaks after two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, to rest the meat, for 3 minutes.

Cut each steak diagonally into slices and serve each on top of a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, together with the caramelised shallots. Pour the sauce into the frying pan to quickly reheat it and collect up any delicious meat juices then spoon a little of the cherry sauce over each steak and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.