This cozy one-pan dinner is the type of low-effort, high-reward meal to keep on repeat for cold, busy nights. It’s inspired by Molly Steven’s Red Cabbage Braised with Maple & Ginger from All About Braising, which itself is a nod to classic German sweet and sour red cabbage. I’ve been making her recipe for years—mostly on the weekends, since it takes over an hour from start to finish.
For my weeknight version, I added kielbasa to take the dish from side to main. I also cut the cooking time in half by charring thin wedges of the cabbage in butter and oil first before adding the braising liquid, a simple step that builds a ton of smoky-sweet flavor. By transferring the dish to a hot oven (versus finishing it on the stovetop), you get tender, almost silky cabbage, a richly concentrated sauce, and browned, ultra-crispy kielbasa. Whatever you do, don’t sleep on the mustard cream that you brush over the kielbasa, cabbage, and apples near the end of its roasting time—it adds an extra layer of texture, flavor, and richness (a trick that happily extends to other braises, as well).
A few notes and tips: Feel free to substitute green cabbage (regular or Savoy) for the red, as well as other types of smoked or pre-cooked sausages for the kielbasa. Fresh sausage such as bratwurst can also be used, though it may need slightly longer in the oven to cook through. Lastly, this is a great meal to prep as you cook. I’ve written the instructions that way below.
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Serves 4
medium red cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds for the full head)
olive oil, plus more for drizzling
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
to 14 ounces smoked kielbasa
large firm-crisp apple, such as Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
chicken or vegetable stock
apple cider vinegar
finely chopped dill, plus more for serving (or substitute chives or parsley)
- Heat oven to 400°F.
- Trim the cabbage of any discolored or bruised outer leaves. Cut in half, saving the other half for another use (such as a quick slaw or salad!). Slice into 1/2-inch wedges, leaving the core intact, yielding 8 to 10 wedges. It’s fine if some of the slices fall apart; use them too!
- In a 12- or 14-inch saute pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add cabbage wedges; they should fit snugly into the pan. Generously season the side that’s facing up with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, without disturbing, to promote even browning, then flip and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, seasoning again with salt and pepper.
- Mix together chicken stock, cider vinegar, and maple syrup. Add them to the pan with the cabbage, and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prep the kielbasa and apple. Score the kielbasa with a knife at roughly 1/2-inch intervals (without cutting all the way through) to help it crisp up in the oven. Cut the apple into 1/2-inch slices (no need to peel).
- Add the apples, nestling them among the cabbage, then lay the kielbasa on top. Drizzle the kielbasa with a little olive oil.
- Transfer to the oven. Braise, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together mustard, cream, and dill. At the 20-minute mark, remove the pan from the oven and brush everything with the mustard cream (getting between the score marks in the kielbasa). Return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender and kielbasa is nicely browned. (If you want to braise the cabbage longer, remove the kielbasa at this point so it doesn’t overcook.) Garnish with more chopped dill. Serve warm. Buttered egg noodles make a good (but totally optional) side.