Fi­nally fall

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - FOOD - Cyn­thia Stone Cyn­thia Stone is an in­for­ma­tion man­ager and writer in St. John’s. E-mail ques­tions to her at cyn­thia.stone@nf.sym­pa­tico.ca.

Un­less you’re an ar­dent skier or snow­mo­biler you prob­a­bly dread the cold that’s com­ing. I do. Then I think about all the beau­ti­ful root veg­eta­bles sweet­en­ing up and get­ting ready for my pot. The cab­bages looked par­tic­u­larly invit­ing last week so I bought two. I had no plans to cook for a crowd and eat­ing that much cab­bage is pos­si­bly lethal, or at least an­ti­so­cial.

Lamb Cab­bage Rolls

No dish I can think of freezes as well as cab­bage rolls, so as I be­gin my fall cam­paign to get in­stant meals in the freezer, there is no bet­ter way to use up all that cab­bage I couldn’t re­sist buy­ing.

Lamb is usu­ally a lux­ury in­gre­di­ent but frozen ground gets you the flavour with­out emp­ty­ing your wal­let. You can make th­ese with all lamb but adding some ground beef cuts through the rich­ness and im­proves the tex­ture.

This recipe feeds a crowd on Satur­day night or puts about 12 sin­gle serv­ings in your freezer.

1 large or 2 small heads cab­bage

1 cup long-grain rice

1 large onion, minced

4 cloves gar­lic, minced

1-1/2 lbs. ground lamb 1/2 lb. lean ground beef

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pep­per

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf pars­ley, di­vided

Sauce:

1 large stalk cel­ery, finely chopped

1 large onion, diced

1 each but­ter and tbsp. olive oil

3 cloves gar­lic, minced

1 28-oz. can whole toma­toes

2 cups low-sodium beef broth

4 sprigs fresh thyme

3 fresh or 4 dried bay leaves

2 tsp. gran­u­lated su­gar

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pep­per

Trim away the out­er­most layer of leaves from the cab­bage—they are usu­ally gnarled and tough, any­way. With a sharp par­ing knife trim out as much of the core as you can. Place the cab­bage, core up, in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a spoon­ful of salt, cover and bring to a boil. In about 5 min­utes pull away the out­side layer or two of leaves—it will be eas­ier if you cut into the core to loosen them up. Con­tinue to sim­mer and re­move the lay­ers of leaves un­til you get right to the cen­tre. Set leaves aside to drain and cool.

Cook rice ac­cord­ing to pack­age in­struc­tions but re­duce the cook­ing time by 3 min­utes.

Drain if nec­es­sary and cool.

Com­bine rice, onion, gar­lic, lamb, beef, salt, pep­per and thyme. Cut the big stalks off the pars­ley and set aside. Chop the leaves and add about half to the rice and meat mix­ture. Re­serve the rest for serv­ing.

Gen­tly mix every­thing to­gether un­til well com­bined. Now you ab­so­lutely must taste this be­cause it prob­a­bly needs a lit­tle more salt. I know it’s a nui­sance but form a small patty and fry in a non-stick pan un­til cooked through. It should taste de­li­cious. If you need more salt add a scant half tea­spoon at a time and re­peat the tast­ing. If it’s any com­fort you’re go­ing to use the pan in the next step.

For the sauce, fry cel­ery and onion in but­ter and oil un­til soft and start­ing to brown. Add gar­lic and cook an­other minute.

Squeeze or mash the toma­toes and add to pan along with broth, thyme, bay leaves, su­gar, salt and pep­per. Nes­tle in the re­served pars­ley stalks and bring to a boil. Re­duce heat and sim­mer for 20 min­utes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Time to roll. Trim away as much of the vein as pos­si­ble in each cab­bage leaf. Lay flat with the base to­wards you, in­side part of leaf facing up. For large leaves you need about ¼ cup of fill­ing; as they get smaller, re­duce ac­cord­ingly. Lay fill­ing close to base. Roll twice then tuck in the ends, left and right. Roll once or twice more, un­til fill­ing is en­closed. Squeeze the roll firmly but gen­tly. If you run out of cab­bage make por­cu­pine meat­balls to nes­tle into the pot. You don’t have to tell any­one.

Place those nasty out­side leaves in a large roaster. Pour over a couple of spoon­fuls of sauce. Layer in the cab­bage rolls and pour re­main­ing sauce over the top. Bake at 325 de­grees F 2 hours or un­til ten­der. Lift out the cab­bage rolls, re­move the leaves in the bot­tom and stir re­main­ing pars­ley into sauce. If it isn’t thick enough, boil for a few min­utes. Dis­card thyme and pars­ley stalks, of course.

Cab­bage and Potato Fry with Mus­tard Cream Sauce

The cab­bages I bought were on the small side but so tightly packed I couldn’t roll the in­side leaves. That was the only ex­cuse I needed to try a new idea to use the beau­ti­ful pale green sweet cen­tres.

Although this recipe was an idea to use up cab­bage it’s now in my per­ma­nent favourites file. It goes per­fectly with a steak, chop, chicken leg or piece of fish.

This amount serves 4 to 6.

1-1/2 lbs. new pota­toes

2 tbsp. veg­etable oil

2 cups cab­bage, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, thinly sliced 2 cloves gar­lic

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pep­per

½ tsp. minced fresh rose­mary

2 tbsp. Di­jon or spicy mus­tard

1/3 cup whip­ping cream

¼ cup chopped fresh pars­ley leaves

Place pota­toes in a bowl with a spoon­ful of water. Poke them with a fork, cover with plas­tic wrap and mi­crowave un­til nearly cooked but not quite. Cool enough to han­dle and cut into ½-inch chunks.

Heat oil in a large pan and add pota­toes, cab­bage and onion and fry 10 min­utes on medi­um­low. You want lots of brown bits and the cab­bage ten­der but still with some chew. Add gar­lic, salt, pep­per and rose­mary and cook, stir­ring, 2 min­utes. Stir in mus­tard and cream and heat through gen­tly. Add pars­ley and serve.

CYN­THIA STONE PHOTOS

Cab­bage rolls can feed a crowd, and if you have more than you need, they freeze well.

Cab­bage and Potato Fry with Mus­tard Cream Sauce

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