In Southern cuisine, fried cabbage is a dish that combines simplicity, flavor and a touch of down-home comfort. With its tender yet slightly crispy texture and savory taste, it's no wonder why this vegetable has become a staple on Southern tables.
Start by removing any tough or damaged outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half and remove the core. Slice the cabbage into thin strips, creating ribbons of cabbage that are about 1/4-inch wide.
In a large skillet or frying pan, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat until it turns crispy and golden brown. Once the bacon is cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate, allowing the excess grease to drain.
In the same skillet with the bacon drippings, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté them over medium heat until the onion turns translucent and the garlic becomes fragrant. This will infuse the dish with aromatic flavors.
Now, it's time to add the sliced cabbage to the skillet. Stir it gently to combine with the onions and garlic. Allow the cabbage to cook down for a few minutes until it starts to wilt. Season with salt, black pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes (if desired), adjusting the seasoning to your taste preferences.
Continue cooking the cabbage over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches your desired level of tenderness. Some prefer it with a slight crunch, while others like it more soft and tender. Cook it for about 10-15 minutes, or until it reaches your desired texture.
Southern-style fried cabbage is best served hot, straight from the skillet. It pairs well with classic Southern dishes such as fried chicken, cornbread, or black-eyed peas. Alternatively, you can enjoy it as a flavorful and satisfying side dish on its own.