Birds Hiding in the Cabbage Patch


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Italian Regional Cookery

Italian Regional Cookery

By Valentina Harris

Published 1990

  • About

This dish comes from the area around Trieste. It originated in neighbouring Yugoslavia, where stuffed cabbage leaf recipes are popular. There are many variations on the basic theme. Here is my favourite - it’s very easy to make and might even persuade your children to eat cabbage! The important thing is to start off with a very fresh, green, crisp Savoy. Mashed potatoes, red cabbage and sautéed mushrooms are nice with this.


  • 1 medium Savoy cabbage
  • salt and pepper
  • 11 oz (300 g) lean minced pork
  • 11 oz (300 g) lean minced beef
  • 2 oz (50 g) parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and finely chopped
  • 2 slices brown bread, cut into very small cubes
  • 2–3 slices salame, cut into small squares
  • paprika
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil or 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 10 fl oz (300 ml) warm meat stock
  • 1 heaped tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 heaped tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


You will need only the large outer cabbage leaves for this recipe: select them carefully, wash thoroughly and blanch for 1 minute in boiling salted water. Arrange the leaves on a clean work-surface, spread out flat and ready to fill.

Mix together the minced meats, parsley, garlic, hard-boiled eggs, bread and salami. Season to taste with salt, pepper and paprika. Put 1 tablespoon of this mixture into the centre of each leaf. Roll up the leaves, close them with a couple of wooden cocktail sticks and set them aside. You should end up with about 12 rolls.

Heat the vegetable oil or butter in a wide pan and fry the onion in it until well browned. Remove the onion from the pan and put in the rolls in a single layer. Pour in about half the stock, bring to a low simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, then add the rest of the stock and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or so.

Fry the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together in the olive oil in a separate pan until the breadcrumbs are crisp. Arrange the hiding birds on a warmed platter, scatter with the fried breadcrumb mixture and serve at once.