Thursday, 10 March 2011

Lamb Cabbage Rolls

We haven't eaten very much cabbage this winter. Normally, we practically live on the stuff but our own crop wasn't great, I didn't store it properly, and it was gone by the end of December. This was not really a problem because our freezer was packed with snow peas, peas, beans, broccoli and cauliflower from our garden.

The end of that is possibly in sight, so I felt free to buy a cabbage this week. Since it was such a novel treat instead of the same-old-same-old, I thought I would do something to recognize that fact. There was one last packet of ground lamb in the freezer, so cabbage rolls it was.

The sugar at the end sounds odd, but my sauce was sufficiently acidic that I thought it needed a touch of sweetness to pull it back into line with the other flavours. It worked very well; adjust the amount by how acidic you think your sauce is.

I guess you could use a non-Savoy cabbage, if you liked. Savoy cabbages are my favourite though. There's something about all those little nooks and crannies.

8 - 12 cabbage rolls (4 servings)
2 hours 15 minutes - 45 minutes prep time

Mix the Seasonings:
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dill or fennel seed
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon savory (optional)
2 teaspoons dried mint
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt

Grind the celery and fennel seeds, and mix them with the rest of the seasonings.

Make the Cabbage Rolls:
8 -12 large outer Savoy cabbage leaves
450 grams (1 pound) ground lamb
1 cup cooked rice, barley or other grain
1 large onion
2 or 3 shallots
1 medium-large carrot (2 cups when grated)
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 cups tomato sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

The rice (or whatever) should be reasonably cool when you start. It can, in fact, be leftovers, which is what mine was. The exact amount is also pretty flexible.

Have a large cabbage with outer leaves in good condition. Carefully remove 8 to 12 of them, and set them aside. The rest of the cabbage is your problem.

Put a large, shallow pot of water on to boil; you will need about an inch and a half of water in it.

Peel and chop the onion and shallots, and peel and grate the carrot. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the onions and shallots until quite soft, stirring frequently to prevent them from browning. Set them aside to cool.

Go back to your cabbage leaves, and pare down the thick parts of the stems so that the leaves will be easy to roll. Dip them briefly in the boiling water (use tongs!) until just softened, then put them in the sink to drain.

Once the cooked vegetables are cool enough to handle, they can go into a mixing bowl with the meat, rice and seasonings. Mix well - I find it's easiest to do this with my hands.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Shake each leaf dry and lay it out flat. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal portions, and roll one portion into a rough tube. Put it in the middle of the cabbage leaf, then fold up the bottom (stem end). Fold in the sides, then roll up the leaf to finish. Put the cabbage roll in a large (9" x 13") lasagne pan. Do the same with the remaining cabbage leaves.

Drizzle the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls, sprinkle them with the sugar, and cover them with foil. Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, and let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Chickpea & Potato Curry with Coconut Milk.


ellieT said...

I loooved my mom's cabbage rolls growing up.
I no longer eat meat - do you think this could work well with tvp?

Ferdzy said...

Yes, I think you could. My immediate thought is that you would like to increase the herbs a bit as it doesn't have as much flavour in itself as the lamb, but other than that I would think it would be a pretty straightforward substitution.

The Armchair Housewife said...

Hello Ferdzy,

Just wanted to say hello, that I just found your blog and have added you to my blog reader- I am just getting into eating locally here in ontario and I am excited to see all the good stuff you have shared here on your blog. Blessings! :)


Anonymous said...

A fitting end to a cabbage. I adore eating that sort of food. The fillings can be so versatile, making a different outcome each time.