So here we go, week 2 and another simple dish. Stuffed Cabbage, how hard could that be. This is another of those dishes that sound simple, not very exciting and probably a bit old fashioned. I do remember trying this some years ago and wasn’t a great success so here goes a second try.
Its a pretty simple concept and one that I think pretty much every culture has a version of, find some leftovers, stuff into vegetable and cook. One of those great necessity dishes that over time got elevated to a higher status.
The general concept of the recipe is make a stuffing, blanch and separate cabbage, stuff and then braise for extended period. Am pretty sure the last time I tried this I used Savoy Cabbage and did not work out. Think that you need a tighter cabbage to hold it all together. So standard every day cabbage that once had trimmed the damaged and overly loose leaves off was a bit over 2kg.Also trimmed the base so it sat nicely on the bench.
First step is to get a large pot of boiling water and cook it whole for around 15 min, making sure to stir it around as always tries to sit base down. Once its finished the initial boil pull it out and drain for 10 min. Once cooled a bit lay out a table cloth and some muslin and start to delicately peel the leaves back to unravel. The deeper you get in the harder the leaves are till you get to the point where they are still raw and stiff. At this point cut what remains of the centre out and keep for the stuffing. The final result is a mess of very delicate leaves ready for stuffing.
The stuffing is pretty much pork mince, onion, garlic, mushrooms and parsley for the flavouring and the usual milk, breadcrumbs, eggs to bind all together. Remember the left over cabbage heart from the peeling, well that’s just chopped up and fried with some butter and added to the mix. Once that is all done its now time to stuff. Start with a big baseball size lump to replace what was the heart.
Pretty much wrap the first layer of leaves around the centre and then alternate thin layers of stuffing and leaves till its finally reconstructed and a porky cabbage!!
Wrap it up with some muslin and tie each diagonal corner using a wooded spoon through the knot to do the pickup, etc. Add the wrapped cabbage to a deep cast iron pot (our old le Creuset seems to get the workout here) and add some wine and stock with bouquet garni and some carrots, shallots and chestnuts to keep the south-west France theme
Pretty much gets out in the oven at 150C (300F) for 3 hours with the lid on. Once its done kind of looks like this in the pot. Smells like the usual slow cooked meals.
Basically to get it out use the spoon the lift the bundle into a colander with a bowl underneath and let strain. After a few minutes I unwrapped it and saw the odd form you see below. Kind of like the egg pods from the moving Alien, I always think how many of those designs in movies are influenced by some image of something they saw as a child.
Any way basically turn it out on a plate. scoop the vege’s and bits from the pot and reduce the liquid a bit as a sauce.
So as with last weeks Coulibiac I do seem to have a symmetry problem with these stuffed type meals not being as even as should be. Maybe need to take a bit more care with the wrapping to ensure presentation works
To serve up I made some really creamy mash potato to go with it. Some clever slicing and all looks pretty good. This is real hearty winter food and ideal for today. Its been raining all day and hovering around freezing so the perfect meal and thing to be cooking on such a miserable day.
So next week’s challenge has been decided and time for a bit of a change of scenery and food, but interestingly still staying with the low and slow braising. Next week we are heading to Thailand and doing whats called Muu Parlow, Khaa Muu Parlow or what I remember more as Khao Kha Mu which translates as Stewed Pork Hocks with Five Spice. David Thompson has a different version in each of his books Thai Food and Thai Street Food so will have a good look during the week to see the differences and decide.