This recipe is a special-occasion variation on the stuffed cabbage common to Middle Eastern and Eastern European cuisines.
- 1 large head green cabbage
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3⁄4 cup cooked long-grain rice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Wash cabbage, trim stem, and remove torn outer leaves. Lower cabbage into boiling water and cook just until outer leaves are pliable, about 10 minutes. Remove cabbage using a slotted spoon, and refresh under cold water.
Transfer cabbage to a work surface. Carefully pull outer leaves apart, just enough so they lie flat but are still connected. (Cabbage will look like a large flower.)
Remove center leaves using a paring knife; separate these leaves, trimming away any tough stems. Set aside to use to wrap filling. (You will have about 24 leaves.)
Mix together lamb, cumin, sage, parsley, garlic, egg, and rice in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place about 1 tbsp. filling in each separated cabbage leaf. Fold sides, then ends, to enclose filling and form a small bundle. Repeat with remaining filling and cabbage leaves, reserving one leaf to use as cover.
Place about one-third of the cabbage bundles on the flattened cabbage, leaving a 4'' border around the edge. Mound remaining bundles on top and cover with reserved cabbage leaf. Fold edges of flattened cabbage over and tie cabbage with kitchen string—it should resume its original shape. Place in a large, deep pot, add stock and oil, cover, and simmer over medium heat until tender, about 25 minutes. Unwrap cabbage at the table and serve with plain yogurt on the side, if desired.