Rachel Roddy, a Rome-based cookbook author and columnist for the British newspaper The Guardian, has been inspiring me for years, especially after the publication of her book – “A Kitchen In Rome.” I’ve worked my way through many of the recipes, but haven’t made this one – for sausage and cabbage cake – until now. I don’t what took me so long, since it’s pretty quick to put together and elevates pedestrian cabbage rolls to company-worthy fare. It all starts with this beautiful Savoy cabbage, a vegetable that, aside from being highly edible, deserves to be in a still life painting.
Remove seven of the largest and unblemished leaves and blanch them for a couple of minutes, patting them dry after you’ve rinsed them in cold water.
You need to quarter the remaining cabbage, and blanch them for five minutes too.
In a buttered 8″ cake tin, place the largest and prettiest leaf.
Layer in the other six leaves on top of the bottom leaf.
Push the sausage meat firmly inside the cake tin, using your hands to help conform to the shape of the pan.
Fill in with the rest of the cabbage, then fold in the overlapping leaves and press firmly. Dot with butter and place in a 350 degree oven for an hour.
I placed the pan inside another pan in case some juices spilled out during baking. as you can see, the top layer gets a little browned. Not to worry – that’s going to be the bottom when you serve it.
See, when you flip it out, it gets all show-offy, pretending to be a miniature oak tree. (Be sure to flip it onto a plate over the sink because a lot of hot, watery juices will spill out).
I served it with a plain marinara sauce, but a cheese sauce, or a béchamel sauce would be right at home here too. Wine optional. No, revise that. Serve with a good glass of dry red or white wine – and some crusty bread.
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- 1 large Savoy cabbage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (I used fennel pollen)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons butter
- about 1 pour very lean, well-seasoned sausage (without casings)
- Remove 7 of the largest, handsomest outer leaves (discard any that are discolored or damaged) and wash them carefully.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the chosen leaves.
- Wait for the water to come back to a boil, then blanch the leaves for 2 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the leaves and drain in a colander in the sink, rinsing with very cold water to fix the color.
- Drain them well and spread them out flat to dry thoroughly on paper towels.
- Set them aside.
- Cut the rest of the cabbage into quarters and bring the same water back to a boil.
- Cook the cabbage quarters in the boiling water for 5 minutes, by which time the leave should be tender but the stems still firm.
- Drain the cabbage, rinse with cold water, drain again, and squeeze out any excess water.
- Cut away the hard central stem and separate the leaves into a bowl.
- Dress them with olive oil and fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease an 8-inch round shallow ovenproof dish with half the butter.
- Choose the largest and best-looking leaf from the 7 you have set aside and place it in the bottom of the dish.
- It should cover the base and come up the sides. (Mine didn't)
- Arrange the other 6 leaves so that they cover the sides of the dish, fanned out, overlapping a lot and hanging over the edges.
- Using a third of the seasoned cabbage, make a layer at the bottom of the dish and cover with half the sausage, pressing it down so it molds into the dish.
- Repeat the process, ending with a third layer of cabbage leaves.
- Press everything into the dish. Fold and bring in the overlapping leaves to cover the top and make a neat packet.
- Dot with the remaining butter and bake for 1 hour.
- (Readers please note, Ciao Chow Linda used half of the cabbage and all the sausage here, and finished with the other half of the cabbage, ending with folding the overlapping leaves. )
- Remove and allow the cake to stand for 5 minutes before inverting a serving plate on top of the baking dish and turning out the cake.
- Be careful, and do this over the sink, as there will be hot juices.