I’ve had this tucked away for ages and it’s another clear winner from Smitten Kitchen. These are not your regular cabbage rolls! (and I’m making them again this week!) – enjoy!
1 large savoy cabbage
150–200 g bread (without crusts), torn into small pieces AND 2/3 c. whole milk
~600 g your favorite pork sausage meat (no casings)
1 small sprig EACH of sage AND rosemary, chopped (dried works for both if it’s all you have)
2 T. grated Parmesan
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 can (796 mL/28 oz) whole tomatoes
2 T. olive oil AND 1 garlic clove, minced
To prep the cabbage – carefully remove and discard any damaged outer leaves and then cut (from the base) and carefully remove about 12+ large leaves that you will use to wrap the pork mix. Drop these into your large pot of boiling water water for a few minutes until they soften, and then remove them with tongs to a clean kitchen towel to dry. I did this ahead and just left the cabbage leaves sitting on the counter for a few hours, but if you’re stuffing the cabbage straight away, drop them into a bowl of ice water to cool them off before drying the leaves.
For the filling – place the bread bits at the bottom of a large bowl, pour the milk over top, leave it all to sit for a few minutes and then mash the bread and milk together with a spoon until something like a paste forms. Stir in the sausage meat, sage, rosemary, Parmesan and a good sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper. This can be made ahead and refrigerated until you need it.
To make the rolls – lay a cooled leaf on the counter and if it doesn’t want to lay flat then you may need to trim a bit of the tough stalk. Form some filling into a golf ball-sized round, place it at one end of the leaf and roll it up while tucking the ends in. Think burrito or dumpling. If needed, you can use a toothpick to secure each roll, but they honestly don’t need to be picture perfect. I rolled mine and placed them seam-side down (and even the odd looking ones tasted divine).
For the sauce – heat up a bit of olive oil in a large skillet, add the garlic with a pinch of salt and cook for a quick minute, then break up the tomatoes as you add them, I usually use my hands. Bring the sauce to a simmer and set the cabbage rolls in so that they’re in a single layer, but snug in the pan. Cover and leave to gently cook for about 30 minutes, then take a peak, adjust any rolls if needed, turn some over if they don’t looked cooked and/or carefully spoon the sauce over all. Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes or so, then remove the lid and check them again. They will be cooked through now, but you can continue to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes if you’d like more liquid to boil off.
Leave them to rest for a few minutes off heat and then carefully scoop the rolls into big bowls. We enjoyed ours straight up but this is also one of those dishes that would benefit from some crusty bread on the side.