Almost Whole Stuffed Cabbage

This sort of stuffed cabbage dish is typical of southern France, and I’ve seen it made with a variety of meats or with salmon. It is neither cabbage rolls, nor a whole stuffed cabbage, but something in between. As many leaves as reasonably can be removed from a cabbage are blanched and re-assembled with a meat filling to form what appears to be a whole cabbage. It is actually a very simple dish to make; the only challenges involve selecting a cooperative cabbage and finding a good vessel to cook it in. I’ve seen it kept in a fairly convincing cabbage shape, often helped with some kitchen twine to hold it together, or pressed into a cake in a round casserole. Savoy is plainly the cabbage of choice here; their leaves are thinner, more flexible, and more tender than other cabbages. 
You should certainly feel free to use whatever meatloaf type filling you like here, and to season it to your taste, although I can report that this one worked well and was enjoyed very much.
6 to 8 servings1 hour 30 minutes – 30 minutes prep timePLUS allow 10 minutes to rest
Almost Whole Stuffed Cabbage
8 to 12 leaves from 1 large Savoy cabbage1 medium onion2 medium carrots3 or 4 cloves of garlic1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil 900 grams (2 pounds) ground beef OR mix of beef and other meat1 1/2 teaspoons salt1 teaspoon rubbed thyme OR savory1 teaspoon rubbed basil1 teaspoon rubbed oregano1/2 teaspoon Aleppo or similar hot pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper to taste2 large eggs1 cup fine (quick cook) oatmeal1 cup beef broth OR watertomato sauce to serve (optional)
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Carefully remove 8 to 12 leaves from the cabbage, whole and undamaged. Trim the stems and shave them to be the same thickness as the rest of the leaf. When the water boils, add the cabbage leaves to it in 2 or 3 batches, and boil them for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a basin of cold water to cool as soon as they are done. Drain them well. This can be done up to a day in advance; wrap and keep cool until needed in that case. Peel and chop the onion. Peel and grate the carrots. Peel and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the onions and carrots until softened, stirring frequently (just a few minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, then transfer the vegetables to a mixing bowl to cool. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
Add the meat and seasoning to the cooled vegetables. Break in the eggs and add the oatmeal. Mix by hand until completely blended. In a fairly deep round or oval baking pan (about 2 quarts/litres) which has been lightly oiled, place the largest 2 leaves so that they slightly overlap at the bottom but otherwise look like they are growing out of the centre of your pan. Place a patty of about 1/8th of the meat mixture over them. Place another 2 or 4 leaves over it in the same way, and top with more of the meat filling. Continue until all the leaves and meat filling are placed. Fold the leaves over the filling to create the appearance of a whole cabbage. Because my baking dish was oval and not round, I ran some string under the cabbage leaves before I started and used it to tie everything into shape. 
Pour the broth over the stuffed cabbage and bake it at 350°F for 1 hour. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. If you like, serve it with hot tomato sauce poured over it. 

Last year at this time I made Perfect Fluffy Scrambled Eggs.

* Originally published here

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