Bring the Garden in Friday with Braised Red Cabbage and Rosemary

Yesterday morning while driving A. to school, I was planning out my day and thinking what I might make for dinner that night.

The morning sky at that hour was pink and grey with a little diffused sunlight. I found myself thinking about going to Paris years ago, as a college student, in January for the second half of my junior year. Somehow the light of yesterday morning reminded me of being in Paris in Winter.

I don't know if this memory bears any resemblance truly to Paris in January, or if it was more of a feeling of longing to be on a plane at the start of a new year for an adventure. I reluctantly acknowledged that the lingering sadness over the death of a young friend last week had something to do with the desire to get away.

Regardless, the visions of France, cooking, and January melded together, and I knew as soon as I got home I would pull one of my favorite, but not often used, cookbooks off the shelf.

Turning to the January chapter, I chose a recipe that would give me the excuse to clip some rosemary and use up the remainder of a red cabbage. I love this book because of the illustrations (I always prefer illustrations in cookbooks to photographs) and because it is organized by month.

Red Cabbage Braised with Red Wine and Rosemary
adapted from The Cook and The Gardener

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head red cabbage (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed and cut in quarters through the stem
Coarse or kosher salt
Pinch sugar
3 branches rosemary
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

1. In a flameproof casserole large enough to fit the cabbage snugly without crowding, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until you can smell it. Add the cabbage quarters and season with salt and sugar. Color lightly on all sides, adjusting the heat as necessary--the cabbage should not burn but should color quickly. Tuck the rosemary branches under the cabbage and pour in the red wine and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to an active simmer.

2. Turn the cabbage from time to time so it cooks evenly on all sides. You want it to be tender without getting mushy. Keep an eye on it, and when a fork pierced through the thickest part can be pulled out without sticking, the cabbage is ready. This should take 10 to 12 minutes (I was using part of a very large cabbage, and the cooking time for me was longer). Taste for seasoning and discard rosemary branches.
Note: If desired, the cabbage may be removed after it is cooked and kept warm in the oven, while cooking down the remaining liquid to a few tablespoons of a thicker, syrupy consistency. Spoon the reduced cooking liquid over the cabbage.
Serves 4