- For the Stuffed Cabbage: 2 cups chicken stock, divided
- 1 cup white long grain rice, such as American Basmati
- 2 medium Savoy cabbages
- 1 1/4 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- Black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (half a palmful) ground cumin
- About 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries, ground in a mortar or crushed with skillet or rolling pin, optional
- 2 small ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, grated
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- A small handful each thinly sliced sage leaves, finely chopped dill and finely chopped parsley
- A small handful (about 2 tablespoons) dried currants
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large fresh bay leaf
- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, hand crushed
- 2 cups passata or tomato purée
In a large saucepot or deep skillet, heat olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add butter and melt into oil. When butter foams, add onions, bay, garlic, salt and stir. Cook to soft but not caramel in color, about 12-15 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes and passata, and bring sauce to bubble. Reduce heat to a low simmer and simmer 30 minutes; turn off heat.
For the rice, bring 1 1/2 cups stock to a boil. Add rice, stir and cover; reduce heat and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and cool on a baking sheet.
For the cabbage, bring a large pot of water to a low, rolling boil and add some salt. Separate large leaves of Savoy cabbage, trimming any very woody or large central veins near base of leaves. Reserve the smaller leaves of cabbage close to the core and finely chop for the stuffing. Boil the leaves in batches, 1-2 minutes, to soften for rolling. Cold shock in an ice bath then drain on kitchen towels. You’ll need 24 leaves in good condition—use large leaves or double up on medium or torn leaves.
Heat a large, wide, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add ground meats and brown and crumble. Add dry spices, salt, pepper, celery, onion, carrot, garlic and fresh herbs. Cook to soften, stirring often, 7-8 minutes. Add remaining half cup of stock to moisten, remove from heat and combine with cooked rice.
Cover bottom of baking dish with some tomato sauce.
Fill leaves with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup filling, tuck in sides and roll 24 cabbage leaves, pressing into tight, burrito-shaped logs. Set leaves into sauce. Top leaves with more sauce.
Cover pan and bake at 350°F in the center of the oven until hot through, 40 minutes from room temp or 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours if cold or defrosted.