Well, I now consider myself a conqueror, not in the bloody now I have taken over a country kind of way, but I have completed my quest to stuff every type of cabbage I know. Those of you who may have been following this quest saw my take on Galumpki (green cabbage), Bok Choy, Savoy and a holy host of others. For each iteration, I tried to match the flavor characteristics of the cabbage to the ingredients with which I stuffed them. Red cabbage, in its own right, is kind of sweet so I sought out the flavors that would challenge that sweetness and create a nice mixture of sweet and spicy. Chorizo sausage was one of the choices that I considered along with hot Italian sausage and Cajun sausage but I have always leaned toward Chorizo. There is something about the mixture of spices that kind of seduce you like a flamenco dancer when your head is full of good Spanish wine. The only thing I did not like about Chorizo was the fattiness. However, I figured that I could drain the fat from the meat after cooking before I put it into the stuffing mixture. Also, there were a couple of alternatives for the rice component of the stuffing mixture, wild rice flavored with lime and cilantro, saffron (yellow rice), regular basmati rice and a flavored box rice. I believe that each of the choices would have worked but the flavored box rice was the winner. Zatarain’s makes a cilantro and lime flavored rice that fit very well into the recipe, it was easy AND… well that is about it, easy. The resulting recipe turned out very well and surprised me with its depth of flavor. It was nice not to have to adjust the different flavor ingredients since the chorizo added most of the nuances. You might notice that the name of the recipe mirrors what I was watching while I was creating it. It seems that I was not the only conqueror yesterday as Army defeated Navy in a hard fought football game and won the Commander in Chief’s Trophy (the trophy goes to the service academy who beats the other two in football in the same year) for the first time since 1996. It was a long time in coming for Army just as it was a long time in coming for my being able to complete my quest and stuff every kind of cabbage. Now without further adieu, the recipe.
The Well Fed Cyclist – Gary Bechard
Army Wins! Stuffed Cabbage
(Chorizo stuffed Red cabbage)
9 oz or 0.6 lbs – Chorizo sausage
11 oz or 0.7 lbs – Lean ground beef (I used 92/8)
1 box – Zatarain’s Cilantro Lime rice, (prepared according to package instructions)
1 – Medium head of Red cabbage
1/2 – Poblano pepper, finely chopped (Stuffing mixture), use more or less for the amount of hot spice you want in the mixture
1– Red Bell pepper, small, fine chopped
1/3 – Sweet onion, finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp – Cilantro, chopped
1 – Lime, juiced
Preparation – Before everything else, core the cabbage head by taking a 3 to 4 inch deep cone (the cone should be about the same length as a good paring knife) around the stem and place top down in a medium stock pot, cover with water and boil for about 35-40 minutes. Once the cabbage head is done, take and set in a colander to drain and cool. However, while the cabbage is doing its thing, take the chopped onion, Poblano pepper and red bell pepper and sauté them in a medium pan until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft. When these are done remove them from the pan and place in a bowl for later. Next take the chorizo and the ground beef and place them in the same pan from which you just removed the vegetables and brown fully at medium heat making sure that the chorizo and the ground beef are very well mixed. At the end of the cooking process and before you are getting ready to remove the meat from the pan add the lime juice and the cilantro and mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed. When this is done strain the fat juice from the meat and place in a bowl for later.
Rice – I used Zatarain’s rice because it is easy and only takes 25 minutes and can be done at the same time as everything else. Cook the rice according to the package directions place in a bowl and set aside.
Stuffing Mixture – Take your meat mixture, rice and vegetables and place into a very large bowl. Now you are ready to fold everything together until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Construction Instruction –
Creating the stuffed leaves – First, make your “production line” in a pretty large working area of the kitchen with the colander that contains the cabbage, then the stuffing bowl, a large flat plate on which to stuff and fold the cabbage leaves then your baking dish. In the baking dish (a deep 9” X 13”), or similar dish, (the one that I use is about 2 ½ “ to 3” deep) put about a ¼ inch (about a 1/3 cup) of water in the bottom to keep the leaves moist during the baking process. Working from the outside of the cabbage head, take a leaf and place on the plate with stem side toward you, spoon about a couple of tablespoons worth of the mixture in the center (the amount of mixture will vary with the size of the leaves) then, take the stem side and fold over top of the mixture so that the end is at the edge of the pile of mixture, next, fold each side to the center and finally take the far end and fold toward you. Take the completed packet and place with the smooth side up in the baking dish. Repeat, this process until you have a layer of packets along the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Plating – I plated these 2 to 3 per person and allow each person to put the amount of Salsa or Piquante Sauce that they like on them. You could also serve this with plantain chips as a side.
The Well Fed Cyclist