We've had a profusion of cabbages in our weekly garden box scheme this winter and were looking for something new to do with them. By chance, the latest issue of The Art of Eating came last week and had two recipes for cabbage - one, for red cabbage, is pretty much our default for using red cabbage - a slow braise with apples, onions, spices and a bit of vinegar. The other, chou farci (stuffed cabbage), was new to me, and made for a fantastic Sunday meal that used up two of the accumulating crucifers.
The gist of this recipe is that you're taking apart a cabbage and then re-assembling it with sausage stuffing inside it. What I liked about the AofE recipe is that it has you take about half the cabbage (the inside bits) and chop them up and make them part of the stuffing.
These bits, after blanching, are mixed up with sausage and packed into a ball the size of a small grapefruit. You take the rest of the stuffing and mould it to the inside of the larger cabbage leaves (which also have been blanched), then press these around the ball of sausage and cabbage to reshape the cabbage.
This then bakes over a base of chicken stock (in our case). Following the recipe, I put some bacon on top, but the outer leaf still blackened. It needs to basted regularly to keep it from drying out.
This is what it looked like going into the oven. After baking low for the better part of an hour, you slice it and it's like a sausage meatloaf with layers and shards of cabbage in it, which make it mighty tasty and reasonably light. I took the remaining chicken stock, which by now had thickened and soaked up some of the cooking juices, tipped in a tin of chopped tomatoes and reduced it by about half to make a sauce to serve the dish with.
When I first started parsing the recipe, it seemed overly fiddly, but it was definitely worth the effort. The kids loved it, it solved our cabbage problem and used up some of my homemade sausage as well. Very thrifty!