Monday, March 19, 2007
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
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
fresh parsley and/or dill, chopped
about 300 ml boiling water or stock
25 grams butter
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.