Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage)

Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage)
We've adapted this recipe by using fresh cabbage leaves rather than the more traditional pickled cabbage. To add a pleasant sourness to the dish, top the stuffed cabbage in the pot with 2 cups sauerkraut before baking, if you like. See the Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage) Recipe
Landon Nordeman

We've adapted this recipe by using fresh cabbage leaves rather than the more traditional pickled cabbage. To add a pleasant sourness to the dish, top the stuffed cabbage in the pot with 2 cups sauerkraut before baking, if you like.

Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage)
We've adapted this recipe by using fresh cabbage leaves rather than the more traditional pickled cabbage. To add a pleasant sourness to the dish, top the stuffed cabbage in the pot with 2 cups sauerkraut before baking, if you like.
Yield: serves 6

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 large head green cabbage, cored
  • 12 cup long-grain rice
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 white onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 12 tbsp. dried bread crumbs
  • 12 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 14 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 12 oz. ground beef
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups sauerkraut, rinsed (optional)
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 strips bacon (optional)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained and crushed
  • 12 cup chicken stock

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cabbage and cook, pulling off each outer leaf with tongs as it becomes tender, about 2 minutes per leaf. Transfer cabbage leaves to a baking sheet; set aside and continue boiling cabbage until you have 20 leaves.
  2. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan. Add rice and boil for 10 minutes. Drain rice; set aside. Heat oil in a 10" skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to a bowl along with the rice and let cool slightly. Add 1 tbsp. dill, bread crumbs, paprika, and chile flakes. Stir to combine. Using your hands, fold in beef and season with salt and pepper; set filling aside.
  3. Heat oven to 375°. Set aside 4 whole cabbage leaves. Working with remaining cabbage leaves one at a time, stem each leaf and cut leaf into 4" square pieces. Repeat to make twenty-eight 4" square pieces. Spoon 1 tbsp. of reserved filling onto center of a square. Bring up 1 edge of square and roll into a cylinder, tucking in sides. Transfer stuffed cabbage to a 6-qt. Dutch oven. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling, arranging stuffed cabbage in a circular pattern in pot as you go. Finely chop any remaining cabbage; set aside. Top stuffed cabbage with remaining dill, along with sauerkraut, thyme, bacon, and bay leaves. Top with minced cabbage leaves and tomatoes and pour in stock and 12 cup water. Cover with the reserved whole cabbage leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake until stuffed cabbage is tender and flavors meld, about 2 hours. Let cool slightly before serving.

Pairing note: Sharp, ripe Ramnista Ktima Kir-Yianni 2006 ($30), a red xinomavro from Macedonia, matches the bold flavors in this dish.