Cabbage is something I make at home quite often. It’s cheap, filling, and so easy to make. It’s a forgiving vegetable so honestly, I don’t mind it super cooked down. Fried cabbage is a dish that I didn’t really know about until I moved to Charleston and had it for the first time. My Mom’s good friend, nicknamed China (who also inspired my shrimp and grits recipe), made the dish often and always made sure to bring me plates of tender, bacon-y cabbage as a special treat since I was always working on weekends.
On my college graduation night, instead of a cake, I asked China to bring me a sheet pan of her delicious cabbage. She specifically asked me what I wanted her to make me as a treat. And my dumb ass asked for cabbage. Looking back though, it made sense. She made hers a bit spicy, packed with sliced bacon, and lots of onions. I can vividly remember drunkingly eating from the pan with my best friend after most of the party guests had left. It was amazing.
Drunken, college nights aside, this is my go-to for a comforting, Southern side dish. Bacon honestly makes anything better, but you can definitely make this without the bacon like my braised cabbage and kale dish if you want to go the healthier route.
This is how I remember having China’s version of fried cabbage, so let’s get started!
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
1 pack thick-sliced bacon, diced
2 large sweet yellow onions, diced
2 small heads of green cabbage, cored and cubed
2 tbsp granulated garlic
2 tsp smoked paprika
Hot sauce, to taste
In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat up the sliced bacon over medium heat. Cook the bacon down until all the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp. Don’t drain the bacon fat.
Next, add the diced onion and cook until translucent, for about 5-7 minutes. Liberally season with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and granulated garlic.
Stir and add in the cubed green cabbage. Toss the cabbage well to make sure it’s evenly coated with the bacon fat and onion mixture. Cook down for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the cabbage. Stir again and cover for another 10 minutes.
Hit it with some hot sauce and serve with rice, pair with a protein, or enjoy it solo!
Note: you can also easily substitute sausage instead of bacon. Whatever you’re in the mood for!