Monday, January 20, 2014

Southwestern Cabbage Rolls

I've had Stuffed Cabbage on my mind for a while now, and have been looking for a way to make it my own.  I had a need to make something unique, with my Southwestern flair, and always have superior nutrition in mind.  So I hatched a plan to make something akin to Enchiladas, but with Cabbage as the wrapper instead of Tortillas.  It has to have the Southwestern flavors like Red/Green Chile, Masa, Cumin, and Garlic.
It's Sunday, so there has to be that fancy Sunday Dinner feel also.  This dish took three hours to cook, so, yeah, it does have that Big Sunday Dinner feel to me, the cook, but also has extraordinary deliciousness that comes from the carefully thought out and prepared food.  This is probably close to Holiday food, although my family would never touch something like this.
A big head of green Cabbage is the focal point here.  Probably my favorite vegetable right now.  I've been eating some form of cabbage every day.  When the Cabbage is raw it is rather crispy, and tends to break when you try and roll it.  So, there is a need to make it mode pliable, so we'll steam it.  We'll remove the core of the cabbage, not just to facilitate the steaming process, but also so it fits in the steamer.
There is a stem in the middle of the steamer basket which I have to work around.  Also the Cabbage has to fit into the steamer, so I needed to trim the bottom of the Cabbage so that it would actually fit into the steamer.  This helps the peeling process later by detaching the bottom of the Cabbage leaves from the stem.
We'll let the Cabbage steam for several minutes to loosen the outer leaves.  As the leaves become pliable we'll peel them off, and let the inner leaves steam a little more.  As this process goes on I'm going to peel off all of the outer leaves until we get to the part of the Cabbage where the leaves start to interlock.  This yielded around ten large leaves which are suitable for stuffing.  The remainder of the core I save for another dish.
While I am waiting for the Cabbage to steam, I'll begin prepping the stuff for the filling.  I'm going to use half of a sharp white Onion, diced, a whole head of Garlic, diced, and two mild Anaheim Chiles, large diced.  I'll removed the Calyx, Seeds, and Membranes from the Chiles.
Now the Cabbage leaves are prepared, and I'm ready to start preparing the filling for the Cabbage Rolls.  I'm going to let the skillet heat up a while first so the cooking starts when I add the food to the pan.
The first thing to hit the pan is a pound of 73/27 ground Beef.  I am using a higher fat content ground Beef on purpose, for flavor.  Also this is a Sunday Dinner, it needs to be hearty, and satisfying, justifying the higher fat content.  The fat helps distribute the Chile flavor, and we will add some other components to the filling to contain the fat so the end product is not greasy.  Fat is actually something you need, and not bad for you.
As the Beef is browning I'll add the vegetative components so that the flavors of the Onion, Garlic, and Chile get infused into the Beef.  Salt the Beef during the browning process with Sea Salt.  The seasoning is where the flavor is, and Salt is the only seasoning, anything else is flavoring.
I add small amounts of Masa to the mixture as it is cooking to soak up the Fat, and the Water produced by the vegetables.  This produces a Maise Roux which thickens the mixture.  It also adds that Southwestern flavor.  We want to capture the Fat, and the Vegetable Water for nutritional purposes, all great stuff.
When the Beef is mostly browned we'll add additional flavoring.  Freshly cracked Black Pepper, Red Chile Flakes, Cumin, and more Sea Salt will bring this filling to the Apex of Southwestern Nomlishousness...
Then at the end of the filling preparation I am going to add the Stuffing part, a half cup of Black Rice, and a half cup of White Rice.  This is the filler part which puffs up our stuffing for the Cabbage Rolls.  You want the stuffing to have substance, and the Rice component adds some actual nutrition, unlike white bread.
Now we have the wrappers, and the stuffing finished, and we are going to move on to work on the Sauce.  Most Stuffed Cabbage has a plain Tomato Sauce to top it,, but here we are going to make a Southwestern Sauce to kick these Southwestern Cabbage Rolls up to the status of Sunday Dinner.
I always start my Tomato Sauces with a can of Whole Tomatoes, and Sea Salt.  This time I am adding Garlic Powder, Red Chile Flakes, Cumin, and a whole Jalapeno.  I'll put all these ingredients in the food processor and process them until I get a smooth mixture.
The Cumin makes it Southwestern more that anything, and I find that I really love the mixture of Red and Green Chile in a sauce.  The Sauce is going to to help meld all the flavors into something unique.
Transfer the Southwestern Sauce to a bowl, and then add a can on Tomato sauce to it, because we need the volume of sauce.  We are filling a 13x9 Casserole with the Southwestern Cabbage Rolls, and we are going to need lots of sauce.  The Tomato sauce will dilute the Southwestern Sauce a little, but it's OK, cooking will concentrate the flavors.
OK, now we are ready to assemble the Southwestern Cabbage Rolls.  I'm going to setup a station where everything is in close proximity for easy access.  I am going to cover the bottom of the Casserole dish with the Southwestern sauce.  Then stage a Cabbage leaf for the filling.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the filling to the bottom of the Cabbage leaf, and spoon in a little of the Southwestern sauce.  Roll the bottom of the Cabbage leaf over the filling, fold in the sides, and then finish rolling the Cabbage leaf.  This is very much like rolling Egg Rolls, or Burritos, just make a nice little package for the stuffing, and continue until the Casserole dish is filled with Nomlishous Cabbage Rolls.
I've probably used about half of the Southwestern Sauce filling the Cabbage Rolls.  You can see the Casserole dish is fully occupied.  Now we'll add the rest of the Southwestern Sauce to cover the Cabbage Rolls.  We want the sauce to go at the Cabbage rolls from all sides, first to keep the Cabbage hydrated in the oven, and also to infuse the Cabbage with the Nomlishous Southwestern Sauce.
Next we are going to place the Southwestern Cabbage Rolls in a slow oven (350F) for about 30 minutes, just to reheat everything.  All the components are already cooked, so there is no need to cook them again.  We just need to reheat them a while, and allow the flavors to meld together.
After cooking you can see he mixture has dehydrated a bit.  The Southwestern Sauce has permeated the Cabbage Rolls, and made them totally nomlishous.  Now that I am done with the cooking I can watch the last two minutes of the Championship Game, LOL!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds and looks Yummy Mike. I wonder if one could patent a recipe? If so, this one could be a contender.

    Hugs, Aunt Lois