PORK-AND-RICE-STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS
Pork-and-Rice-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
I know! This recipe ~ both its ingredients list and method ~ looks impossibly long and complicated. But it's not, I promise. Though I have eaten them my whole life on family feast days, until recently I had never made cabbage rolls on my own and was intimidated to do so. The process was, in fact, quite easy (though time-consuming), but my goal here is to provide detailed instructions in the method that help you visualize what you're going to be doing before you even get into the kitchen. I'll admit to taking liberties with grandma's original recipe, and even used some of the spices and herbs suggested in a recipe by Romanian cookbook author Nicolae Klepper. I opt for savoy cabbage rather than traditional smooth green cabbage because it's easier to roll. I use basmati rice owing to its quick cooking time ~ no chance it will retain any crunch in the final product. Our family cabbage rolls were almost always meatless, made with rice and mushrooms, but I've not only added ground pork but also layered the rolls with smoked side bacon, which adds tremendous flavour. And while grandma fermented her heads of cabbage in advance to give the dish a beautiful sour note (a step that distinguishes Romanian cabbage rolls from others), I've simply used sauerkraut itself to achieve some of that pleasant sourness. Finally, remember never to eat the rolls the day you make them. Wait until at least the day after, when the flavours have had a chance to truly blend. Most Eastern European families, including ours, will make their rolls well in advance of a holiday and freeze them until needed.