On a desk in his kitchen, Frank McClelland keeps an old handwritten book of recipes (left) from his grandmother, Virginia Sutherland McClelland. This dish is a close adaptation of her version--a harmonious blend of sweet, tart, and warm spice flavors.
1 large red cabbage, halved lengthwise, cored, and shredded
7 tablespoons salted butter
2 large white onions, diced
6 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups sweet apple cider
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons firmly packed light-brown sugar, plus extra to taste
3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar, plus extra to taste
Soak cabbage in cold water 1 hour. (This step is optional, but it does take away the bitter "cabbage-y" flavors.) Strain into a colander. Preheat oven to 350°.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt butter. When butter sizzles, add onions and cook until clear, about 6 minutes. Add apples and garlic and stir 1 minute. Add cabbage, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick, cider, salt, and pepper; stir well. Cover pot and bake in oven until very tender, about 1-1/2 hours.
Just before cabbage is done, whisk together cornstarch, brown sugar, and vinegar. Remove cabbage from oven and add cornstarch mixture slowly while stirring over low heat. Cook until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Taste sauce for sweet/sour balance; add extra sugar or vinegar if you like. Remove bay leaves before serving.