Monday, March 19, 2007

Cabbage rolls, only blue

Cabbage rolls are a winter-time staple in Estonian kitchens. Usually stuffed with a mixture of rice and mince, these are simmered in broth either on the stove or in the hot oven, and served with boiled potatoes and sour cream. That's indeed what I did - but inspired by an inspirational fellow foodblogger, I used a red cabbage for dramatic colour effect this time. They tasted just like the real thing, just looked blue:) Reminded me of the blue potato mash I used to make in Edinburgh..

Estonian Cabbage Rolls with Rice and Mince
Serves 4

a head of cabbage, about 700-900 grams
water and salt

75 grams of rice (uncooked weight)
300 grams minced pork or beef or a mixture of both
freshly ground black pepper
1 (red) onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 egg
fresh parsley and/or dill, chopped

about 300 ml boiling water or stock
25 grams butter

To serve:
boiled potatoes
sour cream

Cut off the thick stem of the cabbage and make an insertion with a knife around the remaining stem, which will make it easier to remove cabbage leaves. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, season with salt and put the cabbage into the water. Simmer for few minutes, then start removing leaves one by one, returning the cabbage into the water for a few minutes to soften remaining leaves every one and then.

At the same time, boil the rice in slightly salted water 'al dente'.
In a large bowl, mix the minced meat, onion, garlic and cooked rice. Add the egg and fresh herbs, season with salt and pepper.
Put a large spoonful of the mince mixture onto a cabbage leaf (see photo on the right), and wrap the leaf around the filling. If you wish, you can tie each cabbage roll with a kitchen string (see photo above), although that's not absolutely necessary.
Place the cabbage rolls into a heavy casserole dish/Dutch oven. If you've not tied the rolls with a string, then make sure you place them 'seam side' down. Pour over some boiling water or stock to come half-way up the cabbage rolls. Dot with some butter.
Bake at 200C for 50-60 minutes, until the meat filling has cooked through.
I tend to bake the rolls covered for the first 40 minutes and then remove the lid for the rest of the time, which allows the rolls to brown a little.


Ilva said...

Lovely! I have never seen red cabbage used for rolls but it looks great! I wonder what these would taste like with the salsicce of Tiziano, my butcher....

dagmar said...

The cabbage rolls look amazing!! What a great idea! I miss my mother's cabbage rolls and now I feel inspired making them...

sciencemel said...

As Mr Darcy said in Bridget Jones, "There really isn't enough blue food." =)

Reminds me of my grandma's 'Pigs in a Blanket' (she was Polish). Only she added tomato sauce to the filling...

K & S said...

I think that these look so cool! What a great idea.

Susan said...

Now, this is the way to get kids to eat their cabbage! These are so vibrant and appetizing! My mother-in-law made these every springtime (one of my husband's favorites), and she always made a vegetarian version for me. I may have to make some myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

neil said...

Nice change up from bog standard green cabbage rolls! These are right down my alley.

Mae said...

What a striking effect. A great idea.


christine said...

Wow I've never seen purple cabbage before! What a wonderful, and colorful idea. :)

thepassionatecook said...

this reminds me of an austrian dish vermy much like it - we call it krautwickler. it's white cabbage and i have never seen it made with rice, but it's filled with meat, sometimes gammon. it was never big in my mum's kitchen, but there's certainly a lot of austrian who'd get nostalgic over it... it's not something people make anymore these days!

Pille said...

Ilva - well, it's a cabbage, just blue, so why not use it:)

Dagmar - cabbage rolls always remind me of my mother and grandmother, too, so it's a true comfort food.

Melinda - that's a nice quote:) Though I must admit I prefer naturally blue food, as opposed to food dyed blue with a blue kitchen string!!

K&S - thanks!

Susan - I've made a vegetarian version using mushrooms and rice, too. And I agree with you - just like kids would have fun eating blue potato mash, they'd hopefully like this!

Neil - I love cabbage rolls, whether blue or greet, but yes, these were slightly less ordinary.

Mae - indeed!

Christine - can you find some in your local greengrocer? Red cabbage is also lovely in a salad.

Johanna – krautwickler is such a cool name!! I guess you can do a meat-only filling too, but probably most Estonians were too poor to go as far, so they bulked the meat up with rice J And cabbage rolls (kapsarullid) are still popular here, even if they’re probably considered a nostalgy or nursery dish.