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You will need a wide heavy-based casserole dish for this as you ideally want the cabbage rolls in one layer. Make sure you season every component generously as you go. If you follow the suggestion of putting just 50g of the filling in each cabbage leaf (as you should or they will be impossible to roll), you will have too much. You can either stuff a few extra leaves or put the stuffing in the freezer for another day, which is what we did. This is a traditional Ukranian dish from Mamushka by Olia Hercules. The barberries are optional and we couldn’t find them so made the dish without, still delicious!

Wine Suggestion: We couldn’t pass up a hearty red for this dish, and a new favourite, the Parker Coonawarra Shiraz; full bodied and yet elegant and effortless with that characteristic eucalyptus twist, well recommended.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml water
  • 1 Savoy cabbage, 12 leaves separated, cut out the thicker part of the spine with a sharp knife or scissors
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 160g white long-grain rice, parboiled for 5 minutes and drained
  • 40g barberries (optional)
  • a small bunch of dill, chopped, to serve
  • 100ml sour cream, to serve

Heat the sunflower oil in a large heavy-based casserole dish. Add half the chopped onion and all of the grated carrot and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes and water, then season well with salt and pepper. You can turn it off at this point while you prepare the cabbage leaves but bring it back up to a simmer when you’re ready to add the cabbage to the dish.

Blanch the cabbage leaves in lots of boiling salty water for 2 minutes, then refresh in cold water and drain well on kitchen paper. It’s easier to do this in a few batches.

Mix the beef mince, pork mince, parboiled rice, barberries (if using), plenty of salt and pepper and the rest of the onion together in a bowl. Put 50g of the filling on each cabbage leaf and fold up into a parcel.

Lay the parcels on top of the sauce with the folded side facing down. You want them to fit quite snugly so they don’t unravel. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. You can leave the lid off at the end to reduce the sauce a bit if you like.

Serve with chopped dill and sour cream.

(Original recipe from Mamushka by Olia Hercules, Mitchell Beazley, 2015.)

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