This recipe is inspired by an incredible stuffed cabbage dish that my wife Angie and I had a few years back at Le Florimond in Paris. It is stuffed with seasoned pork forcemeat braised to a rustic turn, and served with a slightly tart broth that melds right into the cabbage. And if someone in the house should complain about the smell when you cook the rolls, send them out for dinner and you'll have more for yourself.
For the Pork Stuffing Reduction:
Place a sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot, add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the wine and reduce to dry. Place on a plate to cool and chill in the refrigerator.
For the Pork Stuffing:
Mix all of the ingredients, except the ground pork, together until well mixed. Add the pork and mix with your hands until blended. Reserve the Pork Stuffing in the refrigerator.
For the Cabbage Rolls:
Heat a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Remove and discard the core from the cabbage and carefully peel away the whole leaves. Blanch the leaves in the water for about 2 minutes. Shock the leaves in ice water then drain in a colander until they are fairly dry. Cut halfway up each leaf to remove the heavy coarse part in the middle of the cabbage leaf.
Divide the Pork Stuffing in 8 portions. Lay out the leaves on a flat surface using 11/2 to 2 leaves for each roll. Place the stuffing in the middle of the leaves and roll like you would an egg roll by folding the sides of the cabbage inward, then rolling to form a roll, about 5 inches long by 2 inches wide. Place the rolls in a non-reactive baking dish that is large enough to hold the 8 rolls. (If you are making the sauce immediately, you can leave the rolls out, but if you are making it later, refrigerate the rolls and remove them from the refrigerator when you start to make the sauce.)
For the Sauce and to Finish the Dish:
Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until it is lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve. Leave the fat in the pan.
Add the onions, carrots and celery and sauté until lightly golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, thyme, cinnamon stick, star anise, crushed peppercorns and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add the vinegar and reduce to dry. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring up to a boil. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and let it steep for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Strain the sauce through a medium strainer over the cabbage rolls. Cover the top of the baking dish with a piece of parchment paper, then cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 11/4 to 11/2 hours, or until cooked through.
Remove the stuffed cabbage rolls to plates. Add the reserved bacon to the sauce, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve with the cabbage rolls.
Chef Sanford D'Amato is the author of Good Stock, a combination memoir-cookbook that details his life in food. Sandy graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1974. In December 1989, he opened Sanford restaurant on the former site of his family's grocery store. It has long been recognized as one of America's greatest restaurants.
He and his wife, Angie, currently split their time between Milwaukee and Hatfield, Massachusetts, where they are preparing to open a cooking school (also called Good Stock).
Author: Sanford D'Amato
Publisher: Agate Midway
Penned: Nov. 26, 2013
What's Inside: The story of Sandy D'Amato's fascinating life in the culinary world, from his modest start as the son of Milwaukee grocery-store owners to his selection as one of 12 chefs personally chosen to cook for Julia Child on her 80th birthday. This intimate portrait of one of America's most respected chefs is peppered with more than 80 of the James Beard Award-winner's favorite recipes.
Sandy shares his take on home-cooking classics (think Fennel Sausage Lasagna and Black Bean Chili) as well as secrets to more challenging, fine-dining delights like Chilled Lobster with Cauliflower-Scallion Cream and Caviar and much more.
Each recipe reflects his cooking philosophy: you must treat all dishes with equal love, soul and respect to be happy with the results. And the real-life success story that surrounds them is as entertaining as it is inspirational for anyone passionate about cooking.
Time Out: 432 pages
Available: $35 at Amazon and other retailers
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