Cabbage rolls are excellent for stretching a little meat a long way. I had a large cabbage, and so made 4 large cabbage rolls, but red cabbages are often fairly small and you may need to make more but smaller rolls. It’s a bit tricky removing the leaves from a raw cabbage, but I prefer to do that if it’s possible, as it leaves (ha ha) the remaining cabbage in the best condition for using in other dishes. If you are desperate, though, you can put the head of cabbage into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, then lift it out, rinse it in cold water, remove a leaf or two, and repeat as necessary. This will also take the place of the par-boiling; you just need to shave down the stem and you are ready to go.
Everything should be quite finely chopped in order to make a cohesive mixture. I think next time I might actually do the chopping and mixing in a food processor, to make it a little smoother. They were delicious in any case, and the creamy mustard sauce added just the right finishing touch. Wild rice cooked 3 cups of salted water to 1 cup of wild rice – in the rice cooker, of course – made the ideal accompaniment. It really needs a little bit of greenery by way of a parsley garnish to look really finished.
If you are just a shade short of the required amount of duck, it could be stretched with a few slices of bacon, chopped and fried with the vegetables.
4 servings1 hour 20 minutes – 40 minutes prep time
Make the Cabbage Rolls:4 to 8 outer red cabbage leaves2 shallots1 small stalk of celery1 small carrot1 tablespoon duck fat
2 cups diced cooked duck meat2-3 slices (90g or 3 oz) dark rye bread1 large egg2 tablespoons rye flour1/2 teaspoon saltfreshly ground black pepper to taste1 teaspoon Polish seasoning1/4 cup duck stock
1/2 cup duck stock
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Carefully remove the leaves from the cabbage, being sure not to tear them (much). It may help to slice each one at the base to remove it from the cabbage as you work. Shave the thick stems down to a similar thickness to the rest of the leaf. Drop the cabbage leaves into the boiling water and boil for 4 minutes until softened. Rinse in cold water and drain well. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a shallow baking pan that will hold the finished cabbage rolls snugly – probably 1.5 to 2 quarts. Peel the shallots and chop them very finely. Wash, trim and chop the celery finely. Peel and grate the carrot. Heat the duck fat in a small skillet over medium heat and cook the vegetables until softened and reduced in volume; about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the duck meat very finely. You can use some of the skin; up to about 10%. Put it in a mixing bowl with the rye bread, also chopped or crumbled finely. Break in the egg. Add the flour and seasoning, and mix in. Mix in 1/4 cup duck stock.
When the vegetables are ready, let them cool for a few minutes then mix them into the filling. It should be thoroughly combined, malleable and cohesive.
Lay out each cabbage leaf and put an even portion of the filling in the lower centre. Fold up the bottom of the leaf to cover, then fold in the sides and roll up. Put each finished cabbage roll into the prepared pan. When they are all in, pour the remaining 1/2 cup stock over them. Cover the pan with foil (if it doesn’t have its own lid) and bake for 40 minutes.
Make the Sauce:1 tablespoon duck fat1 tablespoon flour1 tablespoon Dijon mustardsalt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup duck stock1/4 cup light creamparsley to garnish
When the cabbage rolls have about 10 minutes left to bake, start the sauce. Heat the duck fat and flour in a small skillet over medium heat. When they are sizzling, mix in the mustard and add salt and pepper to taste. Be mindful that there is a certain amount of salt in mustard, and the stock and duck fat may also be somewhat salty. Mix in the duck stock a little at a time to make a smooth sauce, then stir in the cream. When the mixture is thickened, and steaming hot, it can be served over the baked cabbage rolls. Don’t forget the parsley!
Last year at this time I made Leeks Stuffed with Ham, Cheese, & Mushrooms.