Ok, so these have a slightly more wintery feel than the 25 or so degree weather we had yesterday, but they were nevertheless delicious, and nice and light for a whole meal with some bread.
I got inspiration for these from a couple of places around the internet (well, when your Dad says he’s going away and presents you with a home-grown cabbage to sustain you, what’s a girl gonna do?!). I’m pretty sure this is a sort of Hungarian-stylee food, however I’m also pretty sure that Hungarian food uses paprika, and my parents’ usually well-stocked spice cupboard had run out (of course, found this out halfway through cooking…, so I improvised. Try it, it’s good
Trans-European Cabbage Rolls (makes 4 – enough for one for a whole meal)
For the rolls:
4 cabbage leaves (I used white cabbage, but I imagine savoy would be good too, plus it would look slightly less anaemic)
Around 100-150g pork mince
A large handful of cooked rice
Salt and pepper
Pinch of chilli
Herbs – I used a mix, plus a pinch of fennel seeds
For the sauce:
Chicken stock, around 300ml made with 1/2 a cube
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
A squidge of tomato puree
1 small onion
salt and pepper
Blanch your cabbage leaves for about 90 seconds each in boiling water (cut a line with a sharp knife down its vein first so that it doesn’t stay too tough) – do this one by one and lift them out with tongs afterwards – I then cooked my rice in the water to save wasting it
Rinse your rice to cold, and mix all the filling ingredients together (best to do this with your hands if you’re not too freaky about raw meat)
Make the rolls by squidging together a little sausage of the meat mixture with your hands, and placing it around the vein of the cabbage (yep, which has a line cut through it, I know). Fold in the sides of the leaf, then roll the veiny bit up, then roll up the whole leaf to seal in the meat. If the meat is squidging out, you’ve got too much in there. Pull a bit off, vaguely reform the sausagey shape and start rolling again. If you leave them sitting with the loose edge underneath, they don’t come unrolled.
Make the sauce by frying the onions gently until softened, then add the stock, tomatoes, puree and a little chilli if you like it spicy. Place the cabbage rolls carefully into the sauce. Simmer this for around 45-50 minutes. It’s difficult to actually stir the sauce without wrecking your carefully crafted rolls, so what I did was grab each roll with my tongs and gently wiggle it around the pan – that way you’re making sure stuff isn’t getting stuck and burned, without accidentally unrolling.
Serve the rolls and the sauce in a pasta bowl, with bread to mop up the extra. Yum.