When you hear STUFFED CABBAGE you think of cuisines like various Middle Eastern, Polish, Ukranian,Hungarian, Turkish, Romanian, Czech, Greek but never Italian. Many people thing cabbage is not vegetable used in Italy. Oh there are many cabbage dishes up and down the boot. Savoy Cabbage is a milder and thinner leaved type of cabbage. There’s less of that “cabbagey” sulphuric stench to it. I don’t mind the strong smell, I love cabbage, any way, any cuisine, from Germany to Korea it’s a vegetable that’s help keep the world from starvation and yes even from disease. Cabbage is loaded in Vitamin C. Have I made you a convert yet? What if you were to stuff a Savoy Cabbage leaf with a southern Italian meatball flavored filling adding rice to the mix and then baking them all in your usual Marinara? Are we good now? Good. I grew up in a Polish section of Staten Island NYC and Stuffed Cabbage was verrrrry popular. Delicious. Even as a kid I loved it. My Mom turned that Polish Golumbki into an ItalianAmerican pan of deliciousness. The filling was ground beef and pork, rice, and then the usual meatball suspects, garlic, breadcrumbs, lots of pecorino, black pepper, salt, parsley and an egg. As I began to cook more often I started taking Mom’s recipes as a base, some by memory alone, and the adding or subtracting to them. Over the years I’ve played with this, with different meats, cheeses, herbs, sauces and i finally came back to only slightly changing Mom’s. The cheese I use in this is Provolone..It’s bold taste really works well with the meat and cabbage. Whenever I make some adaptations to what Mom made I will always stay within her flavor profiles. She knew how to cook. So let’s make some INVOLTINI DI VERZA…stuffed Italian Cabbage Rolls. Tis the season, cabbage tastes best in the cool/cold weather months.
SERVINGS: 4 TIME: 2 1/2 HOURS
1 LARGE HEAD OF SAVOY CABBAGE, bottom core taken out
1 1/4 lb mixed ground Chuck and ground Pork
1 cup cooked long grain rice, cooled
1/2 cup plain Italian Breadcrumbs moistened with 2 tbs heavy cream or water or milk
1/2 cup fine dice PROVOLONE
3 finely minced CLOVES OF GARLIC
3 TBS FINELY MINCED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
1/2 TSP OREGANO
1/2 TEASPOON KOSHER OR SEA SALT
1 TBS FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER
2 EGGS, BEATEN
2 TBS WHITE ITALIAN WINE
2 1/2 CUPS MARINARA SAUCE
3 TBS PARMIGIANO REGGIANO GRATED
Preheat your oven to 380 degrees F. Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. salt the water. Gently place the cabbage head into the water and cook for 15 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Remove 14-16 leaves from the cabbage head and lay them out on paper or kitchen towels. While they are cooling make the filling. In a large mixing bowl add the eggs then all the ingredients except the meat and the sauce. Blend well then add the meat and blend with your hands until it’s the consistency of a meatloaf or meatball mixture. Now get your baking pan ready. Drizzle the bottom of the pan with some olive oil, then a layer of the marinara, maybe 1/2 inch. READY TO ROLL!!! Using about a handfull of the meat place it at the bottom of one of the leaves. Fold the side in and then roll it up placing it SEAM SIDE DOWN into the sauced pan. You may need more meat or less, don’t over or understuff. And here’s something that many recipes never tell you. I’m not giving you an EXACT measurement for the meat filling ? Why? No, not because I’m’ being a jerk. LOL…Because that head of cabbage yields different sized leaves. The magic of Nature!! You may need more, you may need less. Get a feel for what you are cooking organically and not just using exact measurements. You’ll be alot less stressed too!! Once you’ve filled the pan with the rolls cover with a layer of sauce and a drizzle of olive oil, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper. Tightly cover with foil and into the oven they go for 50 minutes. Uncover, test for tenderness….if not ready, cover and bake an additional 10 minutes but you should be good to go at this point. So uncover and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes. DONE!! Oh this is another dish that is much better tomorrow than it is today. If you can wait, serve this the day after you make it. It’s MUCH tastier.
Making these dishes for me is like cooking with Mom in her kitchen. When I’m done I look up at her picture and smile. Thanks Mom, you taught me well!!