Cabbage stuffed with mushrooms, leeks, stilton and walnuts

Brought to the table, Valentine Warners discerningly stuffed savoy is a crowd-pleaser, especially for vegetarians
Cabbage stuffed with mushrooms, leeks, stilton and walnuts
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 1 large savoy cabbage
  • 500 g collected field mushrooms, such as blewits and girolles, or chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 30 g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 medium leeks, finely chopped
  • 100 g walnut halves, chopped
  • 200 g mild stilton cheese, rind removed
  • 3 medjool dates, stones removed, chopped

Tips and Suggestions

This dish looks pretty when the green cabbage is surrounded by slices of pink ham. Try to choose a handsome large cabbage, and do not use portobello mushrooms, as they turn the whole filling an unappetizing colour.

Method

1. Make sure you have a 1.5-litre pudding basin and a large lidded pot to accommodate it. You will also need two discs of cardboard cut to fit the inside top of the bowl, wrapped together with foil.

2. Take the dark green outer leaves off the cabbage carefully, throwing away as few damaged leaves as possible. Keeping as close to the stalk as you can, cut only the thickest part of it from each leaf, as they need to be kept whole. You will want to go two layers into the cabbage and youll need eight or nine leaves.

3. Bring water to the boil in the pot in which you will be steaming the stuffed cabbage. Dip the leaves in for 30 seconds to make them pliable (not to cook them). Remove the leaves from the water with a slotted spoon, avoiding ripping them, and rinse under cold water. Shake the leaves before laying them on a tray lined with kitchen paper. Layer more paper between the leaves.

4. Melt the measured butter over a medium heat in a frying pan and, when foaming, throw in the mushrooms. Add a good pinch of flaky sea salt, the nutmeg and a bombardment of black pepper. When you think thats enough, add two grinds more. Fry the mushrooms until all the water has evaporated and they begin to catch and take on a rusty brown colour. Take time to do this, as swimming in a pool of water they are not ready for the stuffing.

5. Add the leeks to the mushrooms, mix together and keep on the heat until the leeks are cooked and their moisture has been banished skywards. When they start to catch, they are done. Excess water will spoil the consistency of the filling.

6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the walnuts on a baking tray and pop into the oven. When they are golden and smell toasted, they are done; 5 minutes, lets say. Rub the walnuts lightly in your hands to shed as much of the skin as possible.

7. Crumble the stilton into the cooking leeks and mushrooms. When the cheese is distributed and fully melted, turn off the heat and add the nuts and dates, mixing well. Leave to one side in the pan, making sure the dates are well mixed in, as they tend to clump together.

8. Lightly butter your 1.5-litre basin. Leaving plenty of overhang, drape four lengths of cling film in a criss-cross fashion so that the whole bowl is covered, the layers of clingfilm overlapping to create a strong skin. Taking one leaf of cabbage, place the bowl on top of it and cut around its base to fashion a circle to fit inside the bottom of the bowl. Put to one side.

9. Take the remaining leaves, remembering that the outside of the leaves should face the inside of the bowl. Not willy-nilly, but trying to make a similar pattern to that of a naturally grown cabbage, distribute the leaves around the inside of the basin, overlapping. Insert your cabbage circle in the bottom. (There should still be a couple of leaves left to cover the open top of the bowl.)

10. Pack the stuffing into the cabbage casing, really patting it down and filling it up, but leaving 3cm exposed around the top edges. With your remaining leaves, cover the top. Picking up the cling film edges and, working round slowly, pull in the cling film, which in turn will fold the sides of the cabbage in on its lid. Twist all the clingfilm into a tight knot; it must be sealed.

11. Bring the pot of water back to a simmer; it should be a third full of water. Place your foil-covered cardboard disc on the cabbage and put weights on top (cleaned stones from the garden would do). Put the basin in the pot, add the lid and steam for 20-30 minutes. Adjust the heat so the water is still simmering even with the lid on.

12. To turn out, open up the cling film and pull it to the outside of the basin. Place an upside-down plate over the top and, wearing oven-gloves, invert the basin on to the plate. Lift off the cling film and basin. A little water will run on to the plate; mop it up with kitchen paper.

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