Friday, February 7, 2014

Stuffed cabbage parcels - different from the ones my mom used to make

Stuffed cabbage parcels / Charutinhos de repolho

Still on the changing of tastes subject, there are foods nowadays that I adore that I didn’t as a kid (or as even a young adult). I’ve written about it already, but these cabbage parcels made me think about it again because my mom used to make a version of them when I was little and I simply hated it. You might think that I had issues with the dish because I was a kid and kids hate veggies but, that was not it – I would eat a bowl of raw cabbage, just drizzled with lime juice and sprinkled with salt. The problem to me was that the rolls were mushy and watery, and the stuffing (made with a mix of rice and beef mince) would become a compact rock inside the cabbage leaves – and my mom was an excellent cook, which makes me feel sorry for everyone else eating cabbage rolls made that way. :S

These cabbage rolls, however, a recipe a slightly adapted from Anna Del Conte, are a total different story, and that is why I felt like making them as soon as I read the recipe: instead of rice, the mince in the filling is paired with sausage and parmesan – off to a good start already, right? And I added a healthy handful of parsley because everything tastes better with fresh herbs. Then the rolls are baked instead of cooked in water in a pressure cooker – another great step to avoid a watery dish. And, to make it all even tastier, there’s tomato sauce involved, and I’m a sucker for anything with tomato sauce.

The cabbage rolls turned out delicious and to me this has become THE way of cooking them – my husband, who also grew up with cabbage rolls made the other way, loved them, too. :)

Stuffed cabbage parcels
from the always mouthwatering Delicious UK

400g green cabbage, outer leaves discarded (or kept for another dish)
350g lean minced beef
2 sausages, skins removed, crumbled
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 large egg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
30g white bread, crusts removed
5 tablespoons whole milk
1 clove
generous handful parsley leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, halved
olive oil for greasing
4 very ripe tomatoes
25g unsalted butter

Cut off the core end of the cabbage, then gently unfold and separate the leaves. Wash them.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the cabbage leaves, then blanch for 3 minutes. Remove them carefully from the water using a slotted spoon and put in a single layer on a double thickness of kitchen paper.
Filling: in a large bowl, combine the beef, sausage meat, parmesan and egg. Season with salt and pepper, the nutmeg and mix to combine. In a small saucepan, place the bread, milk and clove and cook over low heat, stirring, until the bread has absorbed the milk. Discard the clove and tip the mixture on the bowl with the meat, mixing to combine. Season again if necessary, then mix in the parsley.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Set aside a shallow large heatproof dish (one that can hold the cabbage bundles without overlapping) and rub it with the 1 clove of garlic (set aside – you’ll use it again in this recipe) and some olive oil. Pat the cabbage leaves dry with kitchen paper, then remove the tough center stalk. Place 1 heaped tablespoon of stuffing in the middle of each leaf, then roll into bundles, tucking under the ends. Place the bundles side by side on the prepared dish. Halve the tomatoes, remove the seeds and place them in a food processor with the garlic cloves (the one you rubbed the dish with, too), salt and pepper. Whiz until pureed and pour over the cabbage. Dot the bundles with the butter, cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 – with this amount of filling I got 16 cabbage bundles

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