Here’s tonight’s dinner about to go in the oven:
It’s one of my latest adventures in Forensic Ukrainian Cookery. I call it Stuffed Cabbage Casserole. Because I love stuffed cabbage, but you know what? Peeling apart and steaming and then sauteeing and then mixing and then rolling and then…
I could have written a novel with that time.
This is probably healthier, anyway–the proportion of cabbage to everything else is higher, and it still uses up those giant frelling farmshare cabbage heads–though if you get one any bigger than a bowling ball (I swear I saw cabbages the size of watermelons at the farm stand the other day when I stopped to buy a pumpkin) you probably want to make sauerkraut with the other two thirds.
This is ridiculously easy.
Preheat your oven to 400 or so, thaw out a pound of ground beef (we get ours from Oakholm Farm at a price not much more than supermarket, and I feel pretty good about the life these cows lead before slaughter), and cut up an onion and as much garlic as you think you can stand.
Set your biggest frypan to heat over medium.
Get a casserole dish and put a layer of leftover rice in the bottom.
Get a cabbage (a red one, by preference–they’re better for you, and also krasnyi, which is important. Krasnyi means red, and also beautiful, because if you live in fucking Murmansk, you better believe by February you’re happy to see a beet.) and take the stemmy bit out and then slice it about a quarter inch thick. Spread the slices (they will hold together well) across the top of the rice.
By now your pan is hot. Add a little oil and drop the onion in. (Steven Brust would be pleased: he believes that all recipes begin “first, sautee an onion.” I have not ever eaten his chocolate cake. He’s right as far as chili goes, however.) Lower the heat and stir it around until it is translucent, then drop the garlic in. Stir it around some more, and then push the aromatics over to the edges and raise the heat a bit.
Drop the ground beef in in bits once it is hot enough for the beef to sizzle. If there’s too much to fit it’s okay to do a batch, push it to the side, and do a second batch. You want it to have enough space and air to brown because that’s where the flavor is. Once it’s browned and more or less cooked, keep yourself from eating it all and then add some thyme (fresh is better), salt and pepper to taste, and a lot of paprika. Seriously. A lot of paprika. And get good freaking paprika, because the supermarket stuff is ass. Either go to Penzey’s, or if you are stuck with a supermarket, get the Hungarian stuff in the tin that actually tastes like something. Paprika is more than just decorative.
I know that will come as a shock to some people.
Then dump in one can of diced tomatoes and one big can of crushed or pureed tomatoes. (I use no-salt varieties.)
Stir this around with the beef and onions until it starts to bubble. Then spoon it over the cabbage so the cabbage is all covered.
Stick the whole mess in the oven for an hour and go away.
Come back, spoon onto plates, open a bottle of wine and om nom nom nom nom nom. (That many noms. I promise. Unless you really dislike cabbage.)
Here’s how it came out of the oven:
Posted: Friday, October 26th, 2012 @ 11:10 pm
Categories: Cooking and Food.
Tags: forensic ukrainian cookery, steven brust, stuffed cabbage casserole.
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