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"If you're a person who digs stuffed cabbage, it's that time of year!" says Rach. "This recipe is adapted from a book from the year I was born, 1968. The book was written in Italian, but I did my best to translate it!" The cabbage is kept whole and the leaves are stuffed with a combo of ground beef, pork and veal, parboiled rice and seasonings, then wrapped in cheesecloth and baked in a flavored broth. The result is pretty spectacular—and delicious! Try pairing it with John's Lambrusco Negroni.
To prepare the cabbage for stuffing, fill a large pot with water (the pot needs to be big enough to accommodate the entire head of cabbage). Bring water to a boil and liberally salt it. Meanwhile, pull off the very large outer leaves of the cabbage and discard. Using a paring knife, remove as much of the core of the cabbage as possible (really dig it out while still maintaining the whole cabbage shape). Carefully place the cabbage in the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Dry and cool the cabbage on kitchen towels. (While you are waiting for the cabbage to cool, you can prepare the stuffing). Once the cabbage is cool, working with the core-side up, separate leaves as much as possible while maintaining the cabbage's shape. You are making spaces to hold the stuffing in between the leaves.
For the stuffing, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, and melt butter into oil. Add onions, parsley, salt and pepper and stir 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir, then add the ground meats, more salt and pepper and the sage, rosemary and nutmeg. Remove from heat. Place meat in a bowl and cool. Add the par-cooked rice to the meat and combine with egg and Worcestershire.
To stuff the cabbage, with the core side up, place some filling between the separated leaves, pushing it as far down as you can and in as many spaces as you were able to create. Do this until you have used all the stuffing. Lay the cheesecloth in a single layer on your work surface. Gather up the stuffed cabbage and transfer to the cheesecloth core-side down. Wrap the cheesecloth up and around the cabbage, then gather the 4 corners at the top of the cabbage and twist to create a tight cabbage package. Tie the twisted cheesecloth tightly with kitchen twine. Set aside and prepare the cabbage cooking base.
Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack at center.
To cook the stuffed cabbage, melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay, salt and pepper and sweat a few minutes, partially covered.
Add stock, then place the cabbage in center of pot, cover and bake 2 hours.
Remove the cheesecloth and string from the cabbage, place on platter and cut wedges to serve.