Stuffed cabbage leaves

For a fabulous, flavoursome main course, Anthony Worral Thompson rustles up cabbage parcels packed with piquant beef in a tasty tomato sauce
By Antony Worrall Thompson
Stuffed cabbage leaves
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

main

  • 1 large Savoy cabbage
  • 85 g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 115 g smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, ashed to a paste with a little Maldon salt
  • 1 tsp thyme, leaves only
  • 450 g lean minced beef
  • 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 175 g long grain rice, cooked
  • 85 g roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp mascarpone
  • 3 tbsp pine kernels, toasted
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 12 slices Parma ham

For the sauce:

  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 600 ml tomato passata

To serve:

  • small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • buttery mashed potato

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Remove outer leaves from cabbage. Then cut out the core, loosen the leaves and drop into a large saucepan of boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain, refresh, drain and dry; you will need about 12 leaves. Set them aside.

2. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the onion and bacon until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute more. Leave to cool.

3. Place the mince in a large bowl and combine all the remaining ingredients except the Parma ham and cabbage leaves. Season to taste.

4. Lay out the cabbage leaves and line each one with a slice of Parma ham. Place a small amount of the meat mixture on the leaf and roll up, folding in the sides. Set them aside until ready to cook.

5. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the celery, carrot, onion, garlic and thyme for eight minutes. Place the mix in the bottom of a casserole or lidded roasting pan. Arrange the rolls snugly over the vegetables. Pour the tomato passata around them, cover and place on the hob. Bring to the boil and then transfer to the oven and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

6. Sprinkle with parsley and a little lemon juice and serve with buttery mash.

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