Savoy Cabbage Dolmas
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“For many people, dolmas (stuffed vegetables) refer to stuffed grape leaves. Canned and jarred grape leaves can be tough to find in some markets. Here, I use my favorite grape leaf stuffing in tender Savoy cabbage leaves. They are versatile enough that if I roll whole leaves, I get larger portions that can be served warm as entrée or, by halving the leaves, I can make them in traditional small, bite-size portions and serve them cold.”
- 1 large Savoy cabbage, cored
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (half a palmful) ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 cup short-grain white rice
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- A small handful currants, optional
- 1/2 cup each cilantro, flat-leaf parsley and mint, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed or grated
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
Fill a very large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and place cored cabbage in the pot. Using tongs, remove large leaves as they pull away from the head. Dry the cabbage leaves on kitchen towels. Cook core for 3-5 minutes. Remove and cut in half to drain.
For large dolmas, use whole leaves. For appetizers, cut leaves in half.
Place meat in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, cumin and allspice. Add rice, pine nuts, currants, herbs and onion, and mix well.
Fill 8-12 large leaves or 20-24 halved leaves with the mixture; wrap and roll.
Chop cabbage core into bite-size pieces.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Melt in butter then add garlic and stir a minute or two. Add tomato paste and stir until fragrant; add wine and stir. Reduce by half then add stock and tomatoes, and bring to boil. Add chopped cabbage and bay leaf. Set stuffed cabbage leaves into the sauce, reduce heat to a low simmer then cover and cook until liquids are absorbed, about 45 minutes.
Serve warm or cool to room temperature then chill to serve cold.
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