“Christmas is a time of tradition and, each year, I make braised red cabbage using my grandmother’s recipe. Disappointingly, my red cabbages have been growing so reluctantly this year that I’ve had to bulk them out with shop-bought ones. The homegrown red cabbages have since been elevated in status to delicacies that I quarter, drizzle with olive oil and scatter with rosemary, thyme and seasoning before roasting”

Port-glazed ham with fresh cranberries and grandmother’s braised red cabbage

Ingredients

1kg red cabbage (or make double to freeze)
3 rashers free-range unsmoked bacon, fat
removed and cut into lardons
2 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 apples, cored and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
50g soft brown sugar
30g butter
150ml white wine vinegar

1kg-2kg unsmoked boneless gammon joint
4 carrots, peeled and cut into rough pieces
2 leeks, cleaned and cut in chunky rounds
1 onion, chopped
3 bay leaves
1tspn peppercorns
2tbspn cloves

200g fresh cranberries (or substitute 200g dried cranberries)
150ml Port
100g dark-brown muscovado sugar

Method

Preheat your oven to 170˚C/300˚F/gas mark 3. Quarter the red cabbage and cut out the hard white core, then finely slice it. Fry the bacon a little in a large cast-iron casserole dish, before adding half of the red cabbage, followed by the remaining ingredients and the other half of the red cabbage. Place the dish in the oven for two hours, giving it a stir every 30 minutes (red cabbage freezes and reheats well, so this can be made in advance).

In a large saucepan, cover the gammon joint, carrots, leeks, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes for each 500g. Put a lid on the pot and check regularly to see if you need to add water. Skim off the foam that forms on the top.

Once it’s cooked, drain the ham and discard the other vegetables and spices.

Preheat your oven to 170˚C/300˚F/gas mark 3. Remove the skin from the gammon joint, leaving the fatty layer behind. Make a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife in the fat and place a clove in each square. In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, Port and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn or boil over. Drain the glaze over the ham and keep the fruit for the end.

Cook the ham in the oven for 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and arrange the fruit over the fatty layer, and baste again. The cloves will act as a supportive grid and the glaze will glue it all together. Return the ham to the oven for 10 minutes. Serve with the red cabbage and dauphinoise potatoes for a festive feast.

More ways with red cabbage

Winter red-cabbage salad
Serves 2: cut an apple and an avocado into bite-size pieces. Add quarter of a finely sliced red onion, a handful of chopped baby spinach, a few toasted walnuts and a finely sliced quarter of a red cabbage. Mix it all together and serve inside a red-cabbage leaf with dressing made from a tablespoon of tahini, the juice of a lemon, a tablespoon of olive oil and seasoning. Whisk in a splash of water if it seems too thick.

Stir-fried red cabbage
Take a small red cabbage and quarter and finely slice it. Add it to a wok with a splash of olive oil, a sliced onion, crushed garlic and a handful each of julienned carrots and bean sprouts. Cook until tender (but still with a slight bite) and serve with teriyaki-marinaded chicken or beef.

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