A few weeks ago I ran an Abowd family heirloom recipe at the restaurant (that of course I personally put my own touches on - what a surprise) of stuffed cabbage leaves, which was enjoyed by our customers, as they have been for many years.
It's not an item we run very often, but when we do it's always a big hit. What made this time different was that I got many requests for the recipe. So I thought about it, and after much deliberation I decided to give it a shot. The recipe and ingredients are pretty straight-forward, but explaining how to roll the cabbage leaves can be challenging. We will try our best.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
• 1 large head of cabbage
• 1 pound lean ground pork
• 1Ú2 pound lean ground beef
• 1Ú2 cup cooked rice, packed
• 21Ú2 tsp. salt
• 1Ú2 tsp. pepper
• 1 large egg
• 2 cups chicken broth (organic low-salt if store bought)
• 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
• 1Ú2 cup raisins
• 1Ú2 cup brown sugar, packed
• 1Ú2 cup red wine vinegar
• 1 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
In a large mixing bowl combine pork, beef, rice, 11Ú2 teaspoons salt, pepper and 1Ú4 cup of the raisins. Mix thoroughly. Crack the egg on top and mix thoroughly again. Set aside.
To prepare the cabbage for rolling, you will need a pot large enough to submerge the large head of cabbage. Put enough water in the pot so that the cabbage will be submerged and bring to a boil. Place the head of cabbage (with bruised outer leaves removed) in the pot of water making sure it is fully submerged.
Cook the cabbage for 10 minutes or until tender with a little firmness but not mushy. Carefully remove (by now the water should be boiling again). Place the cabbage in ice cold water for approximately 20 minutes to stop the cooking process. Remove from the ice water and carefully peel off the leaves, saving 20 to 24 of the best large leaves.
Place one leaf at a time on a cutting board and place a handful of the stuffing mix on the leaf. Fold the outside edge of leaves over the mix and begin to roll the cabbage. Repeat until all of the stuffing has been used.
Place rolled cabbage in an appropriate-sized baking dish, which is at least two inches deep. Place the rolled cabbage leaves in the pan with the edge down so they will not come open. Make sure they are nested tightly against each other.
In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken broth, remainder of salt (or add to your taste), tomato sauce, remainder of raisins, brown sugar and red wine vinegar. Pour over the top of the cabbage rolls. Be certain the rolls are three-quarters immersed in the broth mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Bake for one hour in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Remove from oven and remove the plastic wrap and foil. Return to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes.
They are ready to serve. When I serve my cabbage leaves I like to put a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche (which is now available locally at Trader Joe's) on top.
I find that having a good sturdy beer with the sweet and sour type sauce is my preference. There is a GREAT new beer in the market place from Firestone Brewery called Double Barrel Ale.
It is the best food beer I have ever had. A stunning complement to this dish. Since it is new it may be hard to find in the grocery stores, but our friends at Aloha Wine and Spirits and Ben's Liquor will have it. If they don't, ask them to get it for you.
If beer isn't something you like but wine is, try a dry Riesling.
As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
• Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele's. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City since 1980. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.