Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spiced Cabbage Rolls

Today I was trying to find a way to use up the rest of a savoy cabbage that was wilting fast. I also had some ground beef defrosting in the fridge, so cabbage rolls immediately sprung to mind. The beef is quite high in fat, which is great for flavour and tenderness but not so great for my waist line, so I decided to mix it with some bulgur and vegetables to bulk it up and spread the load.

The bulgur made me think of tabouleh and middle-eastern dishes with raisins, which lead me to a new twist on cabbage rolls. The actual spices I used could be considered Moroccan or Indian. I just consider the result very good!

I only had enough cabbage leaves to do a half recipe (enough to serve 2 people) of cabbage rolls, so the rest of the meat mixture is now macerating in the fridge, ready to be turned into a little meat loaf tomorrow.

Cabbage Rolls

1 Savoy cabbage

1/3 cup bulgur
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, minced
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 stalk celery, minced
2 teaspoons dried mushrooms, crumbled
1-2 tablespoons of mirin (rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika, smoked
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 pinches cinnamon
3 cups water or stock

Make the filling: Pour the boiling water over the bulgur and raisins and let soak for 15 minutes until the bulgur is plumped up. Combine the meat, bulgur and raisins, vegetables, egg, tomato paste, mirin, and spices. Let macerate in the fridge for 4 to 24 hours. 

Prepare the cabbage leaves: Bring a large post of water to the boil. Split the leaves off the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and run the cabbage leaves under cold water, then carefully dry in a tea towel. Cut the thickest part of middle rib out of each leaf, like cutting out a thin piece of pie. Reserve the ribs for the sauce.

Assemble the cabbage rolls: Take a leaf and put 1 or 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center. Fold the corners over, then roll the leaf into a ball. Roll it into another leaf. Put it into a tea towel and gentley twist to compress the cabbage roll into a round ball and squeze out some excess moisture. Repeat until the filling and cabbage leaves are used up.

In a large pot, saute the onions until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the spices, cooking for another 2 minutes, then add the water and reserved cabbage ribs, and stir. Gently nestle the cabbage rolls into the sauce, ensuring that the sauce comes almost to the top of the cabbage rolls. Cover tightly and simmer for a half hour.

Serve over rice with your choice of vegetable. 

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