This is a pillar of Romanian cuisine and although I can see a few noses wrinkle and a few eyebrows raising, I can assure you it is 100% delicious and healthy. Whenever I go home to visit my loved ones, mum usually makes a whole tray full of them as a special treat. The original recipe is made with pickled cabbage, pork and smoked fat, however I have slightly changed the ingredients to make them less calorific and easier for your guys to try. So, whether you have had these before and are looking for a healthier version or you would like to try something new, I am sure you will love these little fellas as much as I do.
Ingredients for aprox 30:
A pack of fine polenta
1 large white cabbage
1 small cup of boiled rice
1 bunch of fresh parsley
1 large white onion
2 garlic cloves
Some feta cheese
500g of minced beef
1 tub of tomato puree
1 happy egg
4 Kabanos sausage (you can use any fragrant smoked sausage)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Step 1. Start by filling a deep stock pot with water and bringing that to boil. Place the cabbage whole, stalk down, cover with lid and boil at medium heat until the top cabbage leaves soften and can be peeled off. Repeat this process until you get the number of cabbage leaves you want, but be careful not to burn your fingers when handling them.
Step 2 Clean and peel the onion and the garlic cloves and blend in a food processor along with a dash of olive oil and the fresh parsley until it resembles a paste. Add this to the minced meat into a large mixing bowl along with the boiled rice, 1 free range egg, 1 tbsp. of tomato puree and 2 finely chopped Kabanos sausages. Mix everything together until is completely homogenous
Step 3 Next, move on to stuffing the cabbage leaves. Take a small amount of mixture (the size of a meat ball), place it on the end, closest to the stalk of the cabbage leave, roll it in on itself and tuck the sides in. Repeat this motion until you have used up all your cabbage and mixture.
In an oven proof deep dish, place the stuffed leaves one by one, add the other 2 roughly chopped Kabanos sausages, squirt tomatoes puree on top and add 2 cups of beef stock. (like so)
Cover with foil and cook in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for around 1 hour. Take the foil off and cook for an extra 10-15 minutes to add more colour to the dish.
To serve, add the polenta little by little, to a pot of boiling water and stir with a whisk until the mixture gets thicker. Add a handful of crumbled feta cheese to the polenta mash and serve with double cream and pan fried sausages (this is optional). They hold very well in the fridge for a few days so don’t worry if you made too many. Enjoy!
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