13/09/2011

Golubtsi with Garlic Baked Turnip

Голубцы - Golubtsi, or meat stuffed cabbage rolls, is a dish whose variations can be found across Turkish, Balkan, Eastern European and Russian cuisine.

Golubtsi combines minced meat, rice or buckwheat, herbs, onion, shredded root vegetables, an egg to bind and wrapped in a cabbage leaf. The dish is often served over a thick tomato sauce, sometimes with mashed potatoes and always with a good glob of soured cream, or smetana.

Time to get stuffed ...

Place a whole cabbage in a large pan and cover with hot water, setting to heat to a rolling boil - this will assist the removal of whole leaves easily, without tearing. Keep an eye on this - we're looking for slightly softened leaves, not cooked cabbage!

In a mixing bowl place a couple of pounds of minced meat - I used pork. Crack in an egg, a finely chopped onion, some herbs and some shredded root vegetables - I used sage and thyme for herbs, and some shredded daikon which delivers a tingling bite like horseradish. I also added an amount of crumbled Caerphilly cheese ... just because. Leave out the rice.

Mix well to ensure that the meat starts to break down a little and that all the ingredients are well distributed. You're looking for the consistency you'd make for burgers.

Relieve the cabbage of several large outer leaves - I found that ten was just right for the amount of stuffing that I had made, making good sized Golubtsi.

Allow the leaves to cook - they will soften more as they cool and will be much easier to handle. Cut the firmest section of stem out in a vee shape retaining as much of the leaf as you can.

Divide the stuffing into the number of leaves you have and place an amount onto the leaf. Fold the two sides of the vee down over the stuffing and tuck back, good and tight by rolling it over and bringing the top part of the leaf underneath.

You should have a number of neat triangular parcels to place into an oven-proof dish and just cover with water or bouillon or stock.

Rather than serve with mashed potato, a baked turnip is a great paleo alternative.

Core the turnip and set onto a piece of baking foil. Stuff a little butter down the core, place a clove of garlic and stuff a little more butter on the top. Wrap the foil around the whole turnip.

Place the Golubtsi and the turnip into a pre-heated oven set to 200C for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make up a thick tomato sauce to accompany.

Soften some onion in some fat - bacon grease or lard is perfect. Pour on some peeled plum tomatoes and pulp down. Raise the heat to reduce the liquid, lowering to keep just warm while the Golubtsi cook. Prior to serving, toss in a good handful of chopped parsley.

Serve out onto a plate - tomato sauce as a base, placing three or four Golubtsi on top. Drop a generous glob of soured cream on top, maybe some dill or more parsley and the turnip on the side.

Eat, enjoy and be fulfilled.

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