Good News and Cabbage Rolls

I don't usually get political on this blog, but I wanted to mention some good news that came out this week. The Obama administration has announced their pick for the number two position at the USDA, and it's a good one! Kathleen Merrigan will be the new Deputy Secretary. She's a long time proponent of organics, local food, and has good experience working in Washington. Click here to see a more in depth article. I was pretty disappointed when Obama picked Governor Vilsack as his Secretary of Agriculture, but this makes me think that maybe change will come to our food system after all!

Now back to the usually scheduled programing....

Buffalo Stuffed Cabbage Rolls! I really like making cabbage rolls. They're really satisfying, the ingredients don't have to be too expensive, and they're one more way to use local ground meat and cabbage. It's really quite amazing the variations you can come up with the same basic local ingredients.

This may be the last cabbage we see this year. Willy Street all out. This one came from Driftless Organics' stand at the indoor farmer's market, but last week was their last for the season. I find myself worrying about how I'm going to get through March without buying any out of state vegetables. I may end up losing some weight! This cabbage was a little worse for wear, but it was really just the outer leaves that were having problems. It's pretty white, which my produce buyer self knows is not premium, (cabbage really should be at least light green) but my locavore self couldn't care less about such trivial things!

I peeled off the biggest outer leaves (after the rotting ones of course.) and steamed them. They didn't quite fit in the pot, but I crammed the lid on top and it worked out fine. They steamed for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I chopped up two old stale heels of this beautiful dark rye bread. We've been eating a lot of this recently in sandwiches - dark rye is one of my favorite breads - I love the rich intense flavor. I've been getting it at the farmer's market from Silly Yak Bakery, which besides having the coolest name for a bakery I've ever heard, makes really good bread. I've become somewhat addicted to their whole wheat cinnamon bread for breakfast. The wheat isn't local, the man at the market told me that they tried making bread with local wheat and it just didn't have the right amount of gluten. They get wheatberries by the truckload from Montana and grind them themselves......

Soon my cabbage was nicely steamed and wilty - this is necessary for the rolling process. Fresh cabbage would crack and fall apart way too easily.

Next year I will can my own tomatoes for the winter, but it was impossible with my move this year, so I've been splurging on California canned tomatoes. (looking to start a business? Someone should be canning Wisconsin tomatoes!) This is tomato paste, which probably is the most environmentally sound way to get tomatoes from California to Wisconsin. It's quite condensed, so I added some water to dilute it, plus a little dried sage and salt.

Now for the meat! I started with some garlic cooked in butter in the cast iron skillet.

Then about a pound of ground local buffalo.....

Then it all got mixed together: bread crumbs, buffalo, two eggs, some more salt, pepper, and a little more dried sage.

Rolling them up is amazingly easy. Just plop some of the meat mixture onto the cabbage leaf like so....

Fold in the corners and roll it up.

Ta-da! I'm always afraid rolling it up will be difficult since the cabbage is so brittle when it's fresh, but it always seems to work out realy well.

The six rolls fit perfectly in this casserole dish.

I spread the sauce on top and cooked the whole thing for about 30 minutes.

This is how it looked coming out of the oven. Not too different. It was bubbling hot though, so I knew it was done. All the ingredients were already cooked, so all it needed was to heat up.

The first course was this beautiful spinach salad that Dave made - wilted spinach, bacon, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and olive oil. We usually don't get to the farmer's market early enough to get the local spinach from Snug Haven Farm - it's a popular item that sells out quickly. But last Saturday we had a snow storm, so fewer people ventured out to the market, and there were still a few bags left when we showed up at 11am.

The rolls were quite tasty. I was especially happy with the rye bread flavor in the filling. It was a nice complement to the cabbage and gave the whole thing a bit of a sophisticated flavor.

Buffalo Cabbage Rolls

6 Large green cabbage leaves
2 Pieces stale dark rye bread
1 Small can tomato paste
2 Cups water
A few cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1lb Ground buffalo
2 Eggs
Dried Sage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Steam whole cabbage leaves for about 10 minutes, until well cooked. Dilute tomato paste with water, and season with sage and salt. Set sauce aside. Chop bread into fine breadcrumbs. Over medium heat, saute garlic in butter for about 3 minutes. Add buffalo and cook until meat it browned. Put the meat in a bowl and let it cool for a few minutes. Add eggs and breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Season with a bit of sage, salt, and pepper. Put 1/6 of the meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf and roll it up to make an eggroll type roll. Repeat until all the cabbage and meat is used up. Place rolls into a casserole dish. Spread tomato sauce on top and bake for about 30 minutes, until everything is bubbling hot. Enjoy!
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1 comment:

  1. I love cabbage rolls and great news about Kathleen Merrigan. May I put your link on my blog??


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