Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Now here is a recipe for a dish that will keep you occupied for a few hours! If you have a spare afternoon or if the weather’s miserable get stuck into this recipe. The pinnacle of comfort food has to be cabbage rolls – ingenious little parcels of meat and rice, wrapped in a tender cabbage leaf – it’s a complete meat and one veg meal all in one hit! To say they are moreish is an understatement, and the fact that there’s a tonne of leftovers, which can be kept in the fridge for days, is all the reason you need to pray it continues to rain.

1 cooked head of cabbage (pre packed)
I bought a large vacuum packed pre boiled cabbage head, which saved the fuss of me having to do it myself. You’ll get one at most good European style delis.

1 long grain rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion (finely chopped)
200g pork mince
1 kransky smoked sausage (finely diced)
150g polish smoked sausage (finely diced)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fresh dill (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 lemon (zest of)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon sour cream
salt & pepper

400ml light beef stock (optional)

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 heaped teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons sour cream
salt & pepper

Remove the cabbage leaves, one by one and rinse under a running tap. Arrange on a large plate.

In a dry frying pan, dry fry the rice for 3-4 minutes over a moderate heat until lightly toasted. Remove and tip into a large bowl. Add the butter to the pan and then gently fry the onion, kransky and polish sausage for 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Tip into the mixing bowl. Add all the other stuffing ingredients and combine with your hands.

Preheat oven to 200ºC

Take one cabbage leaf and lay it down with the thick part at the top. Make a sausage sized patty of the meat mix and lay it at the bottom of the cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf upwards, folding in the sides as you go. When you have fully covered the meat at least once, you can cut off the excess hard part of the cabbage, and set aside.

Place the roll in a large ceramic dish and repeat the process with all the meat mix. Arrange the rolls tightly together as you go.

Once completed, pour over 400ml light beef stock or water. Make a tight layer of the excess cabbage pieces and a few leftover leaves over the rolls to cover.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour then remove from the heat and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile to make the sauce, in a medium saucepan, gently fry the onion, caraway seeds and bay leaf in the butter over a moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the paprika and stir for 10 seconds before adding 200ml water – bring to a boil then add the sour cream. Stir until the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce. Season with salt & pepper then remove from the heat. Pass through a sieve to remove all the solids and keep the sauce warm.

Serve the cabbage rolls with a few spoonfuls of sauce and a sprinkling of fresh dill or parsley.

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