For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, grated
  • 3 cups passata or tomato purée
For the Stuffed Cabbage:
  • For the Stuffed Cabbage: 1 large, heavy Savoy cabbage
  • 1 cup quality dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (enough to cover dried mushrooms in small pot)
  • 1/3 pound meaty chunk pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 to 3 ribs celery heart with leafy tops, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, whites and pale greens, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons picked thyme leaves
  • 10 to 12 leaves sage, very thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 slices stale peasant bread processed into coarse breadcrumbs, about 2 cups
  • About 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound 80% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Pimenton or sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Cheesecloth


Serves: 6-8


Heat olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a large Dutch oven with a lid over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and season with salt. Add bay and stir 8-10 minutes. Add wine and simmer 2 minutes then add grated tomatoes and passata. Bring to bubble and let simmer 20 minutes very gently over low heat. Remove and reserve 1/2 cup of sauce.
Using a sharp utility or boning knife, cut deeply into the cabbage all the way around its core. Remove and finely chop.

Place dried porcini in a small saucepot and cover with stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and let the mushrooms reconstitute. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and chop; reserve.
Bring a very large pot of water to a boil then add some salt. Add cabbage and boil 2 minutes. Using tongs, remove the large leaves as they pull away and let them drain on kitchen towels; pat dry. (You’ll remove about 8-10 large leaves then you’ll reach the core of the cabbage.)  Cook about 5-6 more minutes, remove cabbage with tongs then cut in half and drain well; finely chop.
Process the pancetta almost into a paste in a food processor. Heat olive oil in large skillet, 2 turns of the pan, add pancetta and render it then push it to the sides of the pan. Add cremini mushrooms to skillet and brown well; push to sides of pan with pancetta. Add vegetables, reserved porcini and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Soften, stir mushrooms and pancetta into the veggies then transfer to a bowl or baking sheet to cool.
Moisten the breadcrumbs with milk.
Place meats in large bowl and season with spices, salt and pepper. Mix well then make a well in the center of spiced meats and add cooled 1/2 cup sauce, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, vegetables, mushrooms and the chopped core of cabbage. Mix well to combine.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a large bowl with cheesecloth and let it hang over on all edges by 6 inches or so. Line the bottom of bowl with the prettiest leaf then use the largest outer leaves to finish lining bowl, letting the leaves overhang the edges of the bowl. Mold 1/3 of the meat mixture into the cabbage leaves then layer 2 leaves to cover it evenly. Repeat 2 more times to fill the cabbage, ending with 3 leaves to secure what will be the bottom of the stuffed whole cabbage once turned. Tuck in the edges of the leaves then tie and wrap tightly with cheesecloth.
Place the whole stuffed cabbage in pot in the sauce. Cover the pot and roast 1 hour. Remove and baste the cabbage with sauce. Roast 90 minutes more or until a thermometer reads 165°F.
Remove cabbage from the pot and place on work surface. Let it cool a bit to handle. Spoon the sauce on the bottom of a large serving dish. Cut the cloth off the cabbage and set the cabbage into sauce. Cut cabbage into large wedges and serve.

Nancy Fuller’s Stuffed Cabbage Without the Roll
Stuffed Cabbage
Stuffed Cabbage Cake with Sausage