Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Feuilles de Chou Farcies

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Servings:

    4

Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

The stuffing in these leaves is the farci of the southwest, about which many a sentimental word has been written but for which one rarely sees recipes—and, in fact, to give a specific recipe is no doubt to falsify the spirit of the thing, for the only rule of its preparation is that it be based on bread panade thickened with egg. It is often only that with aromatic support and, when it contains meat, it can be a chopped mixture of any odds and ends of leftover roasts, boiled meats, or poultry giblets. Often a piece of chopped salt pork is the only meat ingredient. If the stuffing most often garnishes cabbage, either whole as in the preceding recipe, destined to serve as the principal element of the meal, or individual leaves, as in this recipe, sometimes serving as a garnish to soup, sometimes served by itself, the reason is economical—whenever something else is stuffed (veal or mutton breasts for braising, chickens for poule-au-pot, various vegetables . . .), the same farci finds its place there. The stuffed leaves of the following recipe may be braised in stock or bouillon and will be the richer for it.

Ingredients

  • 1 large Savoy cabbage
  • 8 ounces carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon goose fat or lard (or olive oil)
  • Salt

Stuffing

  • 1 thick pork chop, bone removed (about 7 ounces), chopped
  • 3 to 4 ounces lean salt pork, rind removed, cut into tiny cubes, parboiled for a moment, rinsed, and drained
  • 5 to 6 ounces lean veal, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped, stewed gently in goose fat, lard, or olive oil
  • 4 ounces stale bread, crusts removed, soaked in hot water, squeezed thoroughly, and mixed with:
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and reduced to purée in a mortar
    • 1 teaspoon powdered, dried herbs (thyme, savory, oregano, marjoram, a tiny bit of sage)
    • 1 handful chopped parsley
    • 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
    • Salt, pepper
  • Water to cover

Method

Discard the dark outer leaves of the cabbage and carefully remove all the others without damaging them. Pare the rib of each, arrange them stacked in a large saucepan, pour over boiling, salted water, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour carefully into a colander and leave to cool.

Choose preferably a heavy, low-sided vessel just large enough to contain the stuffed leaves placed side by side—a 10-inch-diameter copper plat à sauter is perfect, as well as being presentable at table, eliminating the loss of valuable heat. Cook the carrots and chopped onion in the fat, salted, over a low heat, stirring occasionally for from 20 to 30 minutes, until lightly colored.

Mix all the ingredients of the stuffing into a completely homogeneous mass with your hands and roll heaping tablespoonsful—approximately ¼- to ⅓-cup portions—into the leaves, placing the stuffing in the center, folding the stem end of the leaf over, then the two side flaps and rolling the package into place over the extremity of the leaf to completely enclose the stuffing. When arriving at the smaller leaves, two may have to be used. You should have approximately 16 stuffed leaves in all, which should be placed, as they are finished, folded side down, on the bed of vegetables in the cooking utensil. Pour over boiling water to just cover, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and cook at a simmer, lid slightly ajar, for 1½ hours. Ladle a bit of the cooking liquid over the stuffed leaves when serving them out.