Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
I'll be honest, cabbage rolls are definitely not the most glamorous or sexy dish out there. I don't think this would be a meal of choice for any first date or that it's the kind of dish you would want to be served at a hip restaurant. However, it's an incredibly comforting meal and with the snowy, windy winter we've had in Montreal so far, it's just about the most perfect dish to serve on a cold night. It's also a great meal to make in large quantities and have in the freezer for a quick meal at any other time. The only real tedious part of the meal is softening the cabbage leaves in simmering water, but the rest of the process is fairly straight forward. The result is a pot filled to the brim with cabbage rolls stuffed with a mix of onions, rice and meat and covered with thick tomato sauce. It's also a beautifully complete meal that needs very little around it.
I'm usually most inclined to make dishes that are not only incredibly tasty and flavorful but also aesthetically pleasing. This dish is a little bit of a let down in the aesthetics department but it definitely makes up for it in comfort. If you want to freeze an extra batch, freeze the rolls raw in ziploc bags and cook directly from the freezer by adding the rolls to a pot and covering with tomato puree as indicated in my recipe below.
1 large savoy cabbage
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp of dried oregano
2 cups of cooked long grain rice
8 ounces of ground beef
6 ounces of ground lamb
1 can of tomato puree, 28 ounces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Using a paring knife, remove the core of the cabbage. Bring a large pot filled with water to a gentle boil. The pot must be big enough to fit the whole cabbage. Turn the cabbage several times during this process to make sure all parts of the cabbage are submerged in water. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the outer leaves are tender. Carefully remove the cabbage from the water and remove the softened outer leaves. Return the cabbage to the boiling water, and repeat the process to tenderize all the leaves. Using a peeler, peel the rigid center core of each leaf so that the leaves are easily pliable.
Add a good drizzle of olive oil to a pan on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and oregano and cook until the onions are tender and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the onion mixture to a large bowl. Mix in the cooked rice, beef and lamb and generously season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Prepare a work surface to roll the leaves. Add about 1/3 cup of filling on the bottom third of a leaf. Fold the bottom edge over the filling and tightly fold up the sides. Continue rolling as tightly as possible and lay the rolls fold side down.
Add the tomato puree to a Dutch oven and add the rolls. Depending on the size of the rolls you may have to add more tomato puree. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour or until the rolls are entirely cooked through. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche. Enjoy!