In the final installment of the “Get Stuffed” trilogy: Stuffed Cabbage (pg. 95)! Another rainy day in Juneau and this “comfy course,” as Chef says, sounded like a good one to complete the stuffed veggie trilogy. Having tried before to stuff cabbage – or rather to make cabbage rolls – I knew how hard it is to peel cabbage leaves off of a whole cabbage. Those things are tricky! The leaves are all grooved and folded in on themselves and it can be very hard to peel them without tearing. Chef suggested cutting the cabbage vertically in half first, something I had not done in the past, and it worked a lot better for me than simply trying to peel a whole cabbage. It was still difficult, though, and I had to exercise patience. But in the end, I got some good leaves to stuff.
The vermicelli, for the filling (which I easily found in the Asian section of the grocery store), was a little difficult to work with, too. I had never cooked it before and it is very light and brittle. It crumbled very easily taking it out of the package and, as I was stirring it in the melted butter, it kept breaking and flinging out of the pan (even though I was being very careful and stirring slowly). But I got it to a nice golden color and did not burn it, taking Chef’s warning to watch it carefully, as it can easily burn.
My pot was not big enough to blanch the cabbage leaves all at once, so I had to do them in shifts. While I was blanching, I was chopping herbs and garlic and toasting the pine nuts. Toasting nuts is something I can never get right! I always over-toast them…usually not burning, but always more brown than I want. This time was no exception. Oh well. The toasty flavor will just shine through all the more!
Then it was on to stuffing the leaves. I actually had the reverse happen to me as I did when stuffing the zucchinis – there was not enough stuffing to fill all my leaves! I ended up having to redistribute in order to use all the leaves I had peeled. Then I made the basting liquid and into the oven they went!
They baked for 40 minutes, then, after sprinkling Parmesan cheese on top, baked for another 10. The smells coming from the oven were amazing. My tummy was rumbling in anticipation. When they were ready, I tasted them…and…
YUM! 5 stars! As anticipated, the toasted pine nuts really shined through, mixed with the garlic, cheese, and the pilaf, lots of salt and pepper; a great dish! It took a while – almost 3 hours – so this is definitely one to plan ahead, but it was worth the wait!
My finished product! (No picture in the cookbook to compare).