Christmas Delicacies: Side Dishes: Rødkål & Brunede Kartofler

Red cabbage was introduced as a Christmas dish in the 1800s and is said to have been a result of a period of nationalism in Denmark, historically referred to as ‘national romanticism’. Along with the peeled and boiled potatoes, the red cabbage was supposed to make the Danish Christmas table reflect the red and white colours in the Danish flag.

No traditional Danish Christmas dinner is complete without a dish of small, caramelised potatoes or brunede kartofler as we call them in Danish. In most Danish homes, the caramelised potatoes are supplemented with peeled, boiled potatoes, although they are not as popular as their caramelised counterparts.


Serves 8

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 45 minutes


It is a good idea to prepare the stewed red cabbage a couple of days before serving – the flavours develop and improve this way. Just reheat with a tablespoon of butter or a little extra redcurrant cordial.



  • 1 kg / 35 oz red cabbage, sliced in strips
  • 3 tbsp duck fat (or neutral vegetable oil/butter)
  • 1 dl / 0.4 cups apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar, blackcurrant vinegar)
  • 2 dl / 0.85 cups concentrated redcurrant cordial
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp grated organic orange zest



  • Slice the cabbage in thin strips using a knife or mandoline.
  • Heat the duck fat in a large saucepan. If you do not have duck fat, use oil or butter.
  • Fry the red cabbage in the saucepan for a couple of minutes over low heat until the cabbage wilts slightly.
  • Add the vinegar, redcurrant cordial, honey, star anise, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
  • Cover and simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes. Stir the cabbage at regular intervals and add more cordial or water if the pan boils dry.
  • Season to taste with grated orange zest, extra honey, salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the red cabbage to a sterilized glass container if you are not serving it immediately.


Before serving

  • Reheat the red cabbage with little butter/duck fat and season to taste again.

Brunede Kartofler

Serves 4 

Prep: 20 minutes 

Cook: 20 minutes


Begin preparation at least a couple of hours before serving, as you will have to boil the potatoes and then peel them, after which they must cool completely before “browning”. You can also boil the potatoes one day in advance and refrigerate until the next day.



  • 600 g / 21 oz baby potatoes or fingerling potatoes
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz granulated sugar
  • 50 g / 1.75 oz butter



Boiled potatoes

  • Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water – boil until just tender, which means undercooking them by a couple of minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes and transfer to an ice water bath.
  • Peel the skins off the potatoes and let cool completely before browning.


Danish caramelised potatoes

  • Heat the sugar in a large pan over medium heat. Let the sugar melt and turn light brown without stirring.
  • When the sugar is melted and golden, add the butter. After the butter has foamed, add the cooled potatoes.
  • Caramelise the potatoes over medium heat for about 10 minutes. While cooking, gently stir the potatoes so that they are browned on all sides. Do not stir them around too much.
  • Serve hot with Christmas dinner.

Dessert, I hear you thinking! Patience is a virtue

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark