Lahanadolmades – Greek Cabbage Rolls

6 Jan

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Rice paper rolls are one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, they looked great B.

I was given Tessa Kiros’ new Greek cookbook for Christmas, and began looking for a ‘wrap’ recipe to follow on with. I normally love Tessa’s recipes without any changes. One of the reasons it has taken me a while to respond to B’s last post, is that I wasn’t happy with my first attempt, and decided to make them again, and re-worked the filling. It may now be less traditional now, but hot damn, it is tasty. I found the savoy cabbage the best of the cabbages I tried, quite a hardy leaf to work with, and looks so pretty too.

cabbage

I carefully cut leaves from the cabbage, and even kept the largest outer leaves, as I used them to line the base of the pot when it came to cooking. I gave them a good rinse. This amount of filling filled around 12 leaves, but I’d prepare a few extras just in case. I filled a large pot with water, added in a large pinch of salt and then boiled batches of around four leaves at a time. They took about 7 or so minutes before they softened. I then took them out and let them cool a little in a tea towel lined bowl. While they were cooking, I prepared the filling. I mixed together some mince beef, uncooked rice, grated onion, tomato passata, chopped parsley, minced garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, paprika and chili powder. I dotted some butter in to the base of a wide heavy based pan, and added a drizzle of olive oil. On to this I laid the largest leaves, as a protective base. To prepare the leaves I sliced across the thick rib of the leaf so that the leaves rolled easily.

slice

I put a generous wooden spoonful of the mixture on to the centre of the thin part of the leaf, and then rolled it over, then tucked in the sides before rolling it again. I then laid them snugly in to the pot. Don’t do as I did and have the liner leaves coming up over the edge of the pan, best if they fit inside the pan too.

wrap1wrap2wrap3pack

I dotted some more butter over the top and then put in some stock, filling to around 3/4 of the height of the cabbage parcels. I used liquid stock, but you could use the water from the cabbage leaves if you want to mix up a powdered stock. I then put the lid on, and brought to a simmer, for around 45 minutes. To check if they are cooked, I took out a roll and unrolled it to see if the rice was tender, then rolled it back up. As my pot was not very high sided, I found it easiest to remove the rolls to make the sauce. I whisked up some egg and lemon juice, and then added in a ladleful of the hot stock, and continued whisking. Then I poured this mix in to the pot over a very low heat. I stirred constantly in an attempt to keep the sauce lump free (cough, not entirely successfully). The odd lump is forgivable, I hear.

make_sauce whisksauce
I then placed the rolls back in to the sauce and on to the table to serve.

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Over to you B!
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LAHANODOLMADES – GREEK CABBAGE ROLLS

makes around a dozen
ingredients
1 Savoy cabbage, leaves carefully sliced from the stem
250g (1/2 pound) beef mince
1/2 cup medium-grain rice
1 large red onion, grated with a large holed grater
3/4 cup tomato passata. (Passata is a cooked and pureed Italian tomato sauce in a bottle, Hunt’s tomato sauce is runnier, but can be a substitute if you cook it down to around half its volume in advance)
4 generous tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
around 1 litre (4 cups) warm chicken, or beef stock.
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
4 garlic cloves minced
zest of half a lemon
Juice of 4 lemons (3 are for the sauce)
20g (2/3oz) butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
4 eggs
The size of the cabbage will dictate a little as to how many rolls this makes.
Carefully remove the leaves from the cabbage head with a sharp knife, and wash well. Keep even the largest leaves, as you can use those for lining the pan. Small leaves you may use to patch holes in leaves should you find them. Cook the leaves in batches in a large a pot of salted boiling water for about 7 minutes or until soft. Set aside on to a dish lined with clean tea towels to cool a little. If you will be making stock using a powder, you can retain this water for it. To prepare the leaves for rolling, slice off the wide part of the rib at the base of the leaf.

In a bowl, prepare the filling. Mix together the mince meat, rice, onion, passata, parsley, paprika, chili, garlic, lemon zest, and the juice of one lemon. Season well with salt and pepper. Spoon a good sized wooden spoonful of the mixture in to the centre of the top of the leaf (the most flexible part) and roll up according to the images above, a full roll over the mix, then bring in the sides and roll it over again. It does not need to be super tight, as the rice will expand a little.

Dot half the butter, and all of the oil in the base of a large and wide pot with a lid. Place the reserved outer leaves on the base of the pan to protect the rolls as they cook. Place the cabbage rolls snuggly in to the pan in a circular pattern. If you need to go more than one layer up, that is fine.

Dot the rest of the butter over the rolls, and fill the pan with warmed stock, to around 3/4 of the height of the rolls. Should one litre not be enough, top up with a little more water. If it looks like the rolls will move around, invert a plate over the top, to hold them in place. Mine did not move at all. So I just put the lid on, brought it to a simmer, and cooked it for 45 minutes.

You can check if they are ready by unwrapping one roll, and making sure the rice is cooked.

To make the sauce, whisk up the eggs and the juice of three lemons. Add in a ladleful of the stock and continue to whisk. I found it easier to remove the cabbage rolls from the pot at this stage in to a tray, giving me good access to the remaining stock. I also discarded the large leaves that lined the base of the pot. Pour the egg and lemon mix in to the pot containing the stock. Continue to mix with a wooden spoon, over a very low heat. The sauce will thicken a little, but you want to avoid any lumps forming. If you need to add water to thin the consistency of sauce, go ahead, or you may want it even thicker, so mix a teaspoon of cornflour in to a ladleful of the sauce and then return it to the pot. The consistency is personal, as some people like it almost like soup.

Serve the cabbage rolls hot or warm, with a generous ladle of the sauce over the top.
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