Thursday, 22 September 2016

Stuffed savoury cabbage (AIP)

Grain-free and nightshade-free stuffed cabbage leaves

I think I can say this boldly that stuffed cabbage is a national staple in Hungary. Preparing, sharing and enjoying it is a strong family tradition. I was growing up eating stuffed cabbage rolls on Saturday evenings. Rice and salo were the two main ingredients in the stuffing (some prepare it with half rice and half minced meat, some like just meat as a stuffing). Seldom millet replaced the rice, on this occasions horseradish leaves replaced the cabbage leaves. I remember even vine leaves as a wrapping. These stuffed cabbages weren't loaded with meat, in fact, there was no meat at all - only if the salo had some. They were served piping hot with cold, thick bean puree and fresh bread. I never got bored eating them. Sweet grandma's stuffed cabbage rolls are one of those unforgettable childhood memories.

Over the years I have tried to copy her stuffed cabbages but I have never got them right. Seeing them as being prepared a million times, eating them a million more did not get me the exact flavour or consistency. Practice makes it perfect some would say but I think some things just cannot be replicated no matter what. Those early failures did not stop me to explore and experiment with the ways of stuffing the cabbage leaves. I have veganized (no animal product) then, and I have paleoized (no grains) them, and now here is another version, fully AIP, this time with savoury cabbage.

You will need (serves 4 to 6):
1 medium head savoury cabbage
1 medium-small head cauliflower
1 medium-large bunch flat leaf parsley
1 fresh sage leaf
2 medium onions
2 fat garlic cloves
1 celery stick
500 g minced meat (lamb or pork or mixed)
a good pinch of fine Himalayan rock salt
few pieces of pork skin (from the pork fat or salo)


1. Prepare the stuffing: rinse all the veg and pat them dry. Break the cauliflower into small florets. Put the cauli florets, parsley (stem and all), sage, roughly chopped onions, garlic, celery chunks in a blender and coarsely chop. This is going to be your "rice base".
2. Add the minced meat to the prepared cauli rice, season with a little salt and mix thoroughly. Set aside for a minute.
3. Rinse the savoury cabbage and take off the leaves one by one. Keep the large ones (about 12 to 14) and roughly chop the rest.
TIP: Because the savoury cabbage is soft enough no need to boil the cabbage but do trim the thick stem into a thinner layer.
4. Take a generous tbsp stuffing and place it on one end of a cabbage leaf (where it was attached to the stalk), roll up once then fold in the two ends on both sides and finish rolling up. Use up all the leaves and filling.
TIP: If you have some filling left, form into patties and bake them in the oven.
5. Place the pork skin (fat side down) on the bottom of a large pan. Scatter some chopped cabbage on them, about 1/3.
6. Arrange the stuffed cabbage leaves in the pan (you can pack them tight enough, the cauli rice won't expand like the rice would), and scatter the remaining chopped cabbage on top.
7. Add filtered water to the pan, just enough to barely cover the cabbage rolls. Cover with a lid and bring the whole thing to the boil, then quickly reduce to minimum and cook on gentle heat, just barely bubbling for about an hour, shaking the pan occasionally.
8. Serve hot. Enjoy!

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