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25 December 2007 -  Stuffed Cabbage

This is a cheap an easy way to feed a hungry crowd with something delicious and out of the ordinary. When guests ask me what's for dinner and I say "cabbage" I usually get long faces, but after having eaten this one, they usually ask me for the recipe...

For 8 people you will need one curly cabbage, four carrots, four potatoes, two onions one small turnip, one cube of beef stock, half a bunch of fresh celery, 150 grams of pork sausage meat, 150 grams of mince, a large pot and a cold beer or two.

Start two hours before serving. Carefully remove the cabbage leaves without breaking them, cut off the white, hard stems, and throw these to the worms, the chooks or the compost heap. At the heart of the cabbage, the leaves are probably too tightly curled together to be undone. Just set that aside to make a soup or coleslaw the next day. Put the leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes or until soft. You now need to wrap two or three of these leaves around eight lumps of sausage meat. I prefer using pork sausage meat which I sometimes mix with a bit of mince beef. I have never tried lamb but I think that its strong taste would marry very well with the slight bitterness of the cabbage. The idea is to use a few leaves to form a little bag holding the meat by folding them on top of each other. I let you find the best way to achieve this. Depending on the size of your kitchen bench, you may want to spread all leaves in eight piles, dropping the meat lumps on top of each pile so that you can equally distribute cabbage and meat amongst each serving. If you are short of kitchen real estate, you may also make them one by one. Once done, press each bag firmly between your hands so that they won't unfold while cooking.

In the pot, melt some butter and add the sliced onions. When brown, add the chopped celery and place the eight little cabbages on top. Add the rest of the veggies cut in pieces, add one and a half cup of water and season with salt, pepper, beef stock and laurel. Cover and let cook on a slow heat for 45 minutes. Have a cold beer and clean the kitchen. Then let simmer until dinner time. I have accidentally discovered that cabbage can cook for a long time without disintegrating, so have a second beer if so inclined.

Pour the lot in a large dish to serve. If there are any left over, keep it preciously as the stuff is even better reheated the next day...

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