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One French word: rouge, a French recipe: chou rouge aux châtaignes

Rouge, adjective (m. rouge, f. rouge, pl. rouges) = red (pronounced rooj, with the r in the back of your throat, and the j soft).

As a colour, it is also used as a noun: le rouge, red. And as such can be qualified by an adjective: rouge vif=bright red; rouge carmin=carmine red; rouge bordeaux= wine red; rouge écarlate= scarlet (remember that an accented é at the beginning of a word often denotes a lost s).

Other colours: vert=green; bleu=blue; noir=black; blanc=white; jaune=yellow.

My recipe for today uses red cabbage: chou rouge aux châtaignes, red cabbage with chestnuts. This dish is a meal in itself, but can accompany game, or roast pork for instance.  (If you can’t get chestnuts in your area, just do the recipe without, it then becomes “chou rouge à la fermière” = red cabbage farmer’s wife style,  less calorific.)

Chou rouge aux châtaignes: ingrédients

For 4-6 people you will need:

  • one head of red cabbage
  • 1 tbs of goose grease if you can get it, otherwise oil
  • 2 onions
  • a clove of garlic
  • 200gr lardons (smoked belly of pork cut into little pieces)
  • pepper,  a little dried rosemary, 2 dried juniper berries (replace with 2 cloves if you can’t find these)
  • 2dl of red wine (or water)
  • 2 tbs vinegar
  • a 300gr tin or jar of peeled unsweetened whole chestnuts


  1. Quarter the cabbage and remove tough stalks and core. Shred, wash and dry.
  2. Peel and slice the onion finely. Fry in the goose grease or oil.
  3. Peel the clove of garlic, crush with the back of a large knife and fry briefly with the onions.
  4. Add the lardons, fry for a few minutes and then put in the cabbage.
  5. Add all the seasonings together with the wine and the vinegar, stir and simmer for half an hour. Be careful how you salt this dish, sometimes the lardons are salty enough.
  6. Add the whole chestnuts, and continue cooking for half an hour.

Conversion tables

Chou rouge aux châtaignes

Very simple, very good, inexpensive. When I cook this sort of recipe, I think of country people (probably more in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries) who in winter really only used what they had to hand. Little or no transport, snowed in probably, with hams hanging from rafters, winter vegetables in clamps, and cabbage and leeks in the vegetable garden (le potager). Cheeses made with summer milk, potatoes, ham. Bread from last summer’s wheat. Chestnuts were a source of carbohydrate and protein in many regions of France. Some of the greatest peasant recipes are based on combinations of these ingredients.

Bon appétit.


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

3 responses »

  1. Combining chestnuts with red cabbage sounds like a winner to me.

  2. I love robust peasant-type food – especially in the current cold snap – and this sounds just up my street.


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