This yummy cabbage stew is traditional in Southern Sweden -in Skåne, especially at the Christmas table. It is sweet, flavorsome, and melts in your mouth.
You can make a delicious kållåda, a cabbage casserole with some fried minced meat from leftovers.
No, the cabbage is not brown, regular white cabbage is used, but the dish becomes brown since brown syrup is used, and the cabbage browns and caramelizes in the making.
Different types of braised cabbage are common, especially at the Swedish Christmas table. This brown cabbage is eaten especially at Skåne. I have a recipe also for braised red cabbage; this is more common in the middle parts of Sweden. You need to test that one, also.
What is unique about this brown cabbage is that it is cooked for a very long time; this is how it gets its brown color. The dark syrup is used to give it some sweetness, and a splash of vinegar balances out the taste.
Brunkål is often cooked in pork fat from the oven-cooked ham but is also good if made with butter and meat-, chicken or veggie stock.
Brunkål is not only a Swedish thing. It is a traditional dish in Denmark also. In Denmark, it is also eaten as an everyday food. Usually, with added bacon. I don´t know where the recipe originally came from, but southern Sweden and Denmark, since close together, have many similarities in dishes.
- White cabbage
- Butter. Margarine or oil can also be used instead
- Chicken stock, beef stock, or vegetable stock. Or broth from the ham.
- Dark Syrup
- Soy sauce. Instead of soy sauce, you can use salt
- Vinegar. White vinegar or apple cider vinegar is most commonly used.
- Pepper. White pepper is more traditional, but black pepper is equally good.
- Whole allspice-optional
- 2 Bay leaves-optional
Adding a yellow onion is also optional-it gives an additional taste.
What to replace the Scandinavian brown syrup with?
In this recipe, you can replace it with muscovado sugar. Any of the below also works;
- Dark Karo syrup
- Dark corn syrup
- Danish molasses
- Sorghum syrup
- Golden syrup with 2 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
If you don't have any of these at home, use regular white sugar or light syrup.
- Remove withered outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into four, and remove the hard parts.
- Cut your cabbage pieces into slices and then into small pieces.
- Melt the butter in your pan. Use a large saucepan or a Duch oven.
- Add the cabbage and fry at high heat for about 5 minutes while stirring. If you want your cabbage to be very brown, you can brown some color to it at this stage. Browning also gives some more taste.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients. Simmer your cabbage stew on low to medium heat with a lid on for an hour.
- Remove the lid and cook at low heat for another hour so you get some liquid evaporated. The flavor intensifies with this long cooking time.
Tip: If you are in a hurry, an hour works fine as cooking time for the cabbage. For the most flavor, you can let it stew for up to 4 hours.
What to serve with?
- Duck breast
- Plant-based meatballs
- Seitan ham
- With mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam
Brunkål does not look that fancy, but serve it in a nice bowl and chop some chives or parsley on top of it and it will look more appealing. You can decorate the dish even with some frozen cranberries or lingonberries. -those pair nicely with the cabbage in taste.
Can you make this into a vegan version?
Absolutely. When making brunkål, you can use vegetable stock and margarine or oil when frying your cabbage. Serve it with IKEA plant balls and lingonberry jam; absolutely delicious. This also goes well with other vegan meat substitutes like seitan ham.
Yes, absolutely. Stir it a couple of times when in the oven. Bake at 400F (200C) for at least an hour on the middle shelf. Use foil as a lid so the cabbage does not burn on top.
Store your brunkål in an airtight container since cabbage has a powerful smell. It keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge.
Brunkål can be made ahead of time and then frozen. Thaw it in the fridge and reheat it in the oven or a pan.
Brunkål-Swedish style brown cabbage
- 2 pounds white cabbage. (1 medium size) about 1 kg
- ½ stick butter (½cup), 60 grams
- ½ cup brown syrup
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon white or black pepper
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice(about 10-15 psc)
- 2 bay leaves
- Remove withered outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into four, and remove the hard parts. Cut your cabbage pieces into slices and then into small pieces.
- Melt the butter in your large pan. Add the cabbage and fry at high heat for about 5 minutes while stirring. If you want your cabbage to be very brown you can brown some color to it at this stage.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients. Simmer your cabbage stew on low to medium heat with a lid on for an hour. Remove the lid and cook at low heat for another hour so you get some liquid evaporated.
- Serve warm with ham, sausages, or meatballs.