The Inspiration of UrbnSpice Series
How could I resist it? It was just sitting there in all its beauty, beckoning me to create a culinary masterpiece. I felt that my favourite green grocer had created this display to entice just me – it worked! It was a magnet. Would you be able to pass this gorgeous vegetable by without admiring its beauty? I could not. My prize was a Savoy Cabbage.
I watched that morning how passersby did not even give this gorgeous display a second look. Perhaps they did not know what to do with it; perhaps they were far too busy to consider its use; and perhaps, they were stuck in a cooking rut that would not allow them to consider this prize.
My mind was spinning with possibilities – how would I use it to its best advantage? How could I show off its bounty? Who could I share it with?
The grand total of this beauty was $1! How could something so beautiful be so reasonably priced? I had to have it. I brought it home with great care and proudly admired it on my kitchen counter for the remainder of the afternoon.
For those of you that have never tried this variety of cabbage, you are missing out on a very mild flavoured vegetable that is as versatile as it is delicious. Its uses are many, from salads, soups, side dishes such as shredded savoy cabbage with leeks and pine nuts, or sautéed with butter, salt and pepper. This beautiful cabbage was destined to be included in my gluten-free repertoire – a stuffed cabbage, but not just any stuffed cabbage.
My culinary attentions of late have included many gluten-free – grain-free options. It is a tricky combination of restrictions. I could not use the typical rice component for the filling, nor could I include a panade (binder) because the usual ingredients are wheat based or grain based.
My solution for a binder substitute – vegetable flakes!
- Rehydrated Vegetable Flakes
One day, my husband and I were scratching our heads trying to come up with options for our daughter’s grain-free, gluten-free dietary restrictions, and bingo! We came up with this moment of brilliance!
After rehydrating dried vegetable flakes, I pureed them into a paste and added them to the ingredients.
It not only added the moisture we needed to bind the pork and beef mixture together, but it also added an extra boost of flavour.
In order to facilitate all the food restrictions and use the beautiful cabbage to its best advantage, I adopted an interesting alternative to cabbage rolls: “The Cabbage Dome”.
Here are the ingredients so you can give this a try yourself:
CHEF TALK: I always recommend cooking or frying a small portion (meatball sized) of the mixture, and then taste it to determine if you have the correct seasoning requirements before you start to build the dome. (see below) This tip also applies to meat mixtures for meatloaves, meatballs, hamburger or any other alternative mixtures (see veggie burgers).This is a recipe that has been adapted from a brilliant recipe from Laura Calder’s stuffed cabbage. This version is entirely gluten free and grain free.
- 1 Savoy cabbage (about 2 lbs)
- 1/2 cup dried vegetable flakes
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 3 clove garlic chopped
- 1/2 lb. mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
- fresh thyme, chopped
- fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 lb. pork sausage meat
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 cups tomato juice
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Then add salt ‘so that it tastes like the sea’, as my culinary instructors used to say. (about 2 tablespoons)
Prepare the Savoy Cabbage: core the cabbage and peel away the leaves one by one. The outer leaves will have a larger vein that should be trimmed or cut out so that it is easier to assemble the stuffed cabbage. The leaves get too small as you get to the heart of the cabbage: shred those to add to the filling. Set aside the leaves and the shredded cabbage.
Blanch the larger cabbage leaves for a few minutes to soften. Place the blanched leaves in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the leaves and pat them dry with a paper towel. Set them aside on a baking sheet until assembly time.
Prepare the dried vegetable binder (panade): Place the dried vegetables flakes into a small bowl, and pour the hot water over them to rehydrate for at least five minutes. Drain any extra water. Chop the rehydrated vegetable mixture finely. Set aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet and gently fry the onion and shallot until transparent, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, mushrooms, reserved shredded cabbage, thyme and parsley. Add the tomato paste and the rehydrated vegetable mixture. Cook another five minutes.
Add the smoked paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Cool slightly before adding it to the ground meat.
Add this mixture to the ground beef and sausage meat in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork. Take about a teaspoonful of the mixture and fry it in the frying pan. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Testing the Meat Mixture for Stuffed Cabbage
Once I was satisfied that the mixture was seasoned appropriately, it was time for assembly.
BUILDING THE CABBAGE DOME:
Basically, the idea is: you are building layers from the cabbage leaves (blanched to soften), and layers of meat and vegetable mixture, starting with the largest leaves and ending with the smaller leaves, with decreasing proportions of meat/vegetable mixture as each layer is built.
Once the top layer is completed, carefully pull the edges of the cheesecloth or tea towel tightly around the cabbage dome, twisting tightly to form a large round ball.
Tightly tie a piece of butcher twine around the top of the cheesecloth bundle. Place the dome on a rack in a pot deep enough to hold the cabbage. Pour tomato juice in the bottom of the pot (about 2 cups). Cover the pot tightly and steam until cooked (about 45 minutes to one hour).
If you wish, you may use a digital thermometer, and steam, until it registers an internal temperature of 71°C/160°F. Using a pair of tongs, lift the stuffed cabbage carefully out of the pot and let it cool for a few minutes on a rack on the counter before removing the cheesecloth. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cabbage dome, and turn the stuffed cabbage and plate carefully over to expose the cabbage dome’s bottom. This is now the best (or presentation) side. Let it sit for a few minutes to cool slightly for ease of cutting. Cut the cabbage dome into slices or wedges to serve, together with the enriched broth remaining in the pot as a flavourful “jus”, or serve it with a simple tomato sauce.
- You can see the Dried Vegetable Flakes used in this Gluten Free, Grain Free Stuffed Cabbage
Please CLICK the link above to access my UrbnSpice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Digital Thermometer
Further reading for gluten-free – grain-free recipes:
As always, if you give this recipe for this gluten free, grain free Stuffed Cabbage a try, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback.
This will be a spectacular presentation for your guests. A whole new approach to cabbage rolls! Have fun with this gluten free, grain free recipe.
You can find me on social media – just be sure to tag @urbnspice and #urbnspice so I am sure to see it. Enjoy!
The Urbnspice Chef
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