Regional French Cuisine: Auvergne: Stuffed Cabbage

5 01 2009

Happy New Year, everyone!  I realize I am a little belated in my greeting, but after finally beating the cold/flu nastiness I was saddled with over Christmas, I got smacked with the busiest week of the year at work.  We’re talking 1 am alarm clocks (!), night buses, taxi debacles, 12-plus-hour workdays (I know, I used to have those regularly, but now I’m a spoiled French pâtissière), and weird break-ins at work.  Let’s just say I’m hoping that 2009 gets better, because judging from the first couple of hours, I’m going to have an irritating, frustrating, tiring, frantic, and scary year.

Blanched cabbage leaf

But I’m not here to whine.  Somewhere in the midst of all the hectic end-of-year activity, I had time to reflect on the new year, resolutions, and the like.  Something about the new year does encourage a certain amount of renewed energy and enthusiasm, so I’m feeling pretty excited about this idea I came up with for the blog.  Each month, I am going to highlight a particular region in France, with a focus on the traditional cuisine.  I hope to put up at least one post a week on the featured region, be it about a dish I attempted at home, a restaurant, travel photos (when applicable), or other regional products such as cheese, wine, charcuterie, or beer.  Of course I will also continue to report on my regular food adventures as well, so don’t worry, I haven’t gone completely educational on you.

Cantal entre deux ages

For January, I have decided to start out with the cuisine of Auvergne.  A mountainous region in central France which I called home for seven months in 2000 and 2001, the food in Auvergne is rustic, hearty and delicious.  A stunning number of famous French cheeses are produced in Auvergne, including Cantal (one of the top-selling cheeses in France), Saint-Nectaire, and Fourme d’Ambert, just to name a few.

How would you stuff cabbage?

In my new favorite Parisian dining guide, Hungry for Paris by Alexander Lobrano, the classic Auvergnat stuffed cabbage plays a hefty supporting role.  Owing perhaps to the fact that a large number of Paris’ bistros were opened by displaced residents of Auvergne, the dish features on many menus in as many different forms.  I happened to have a gorgeous designer cabbage lurking in my vegetable drawer a little longer than it should, and I wanted to make something to use it up.  Enter Lobrano and his mouthwatering descriptions of stuffed cabbage.  Trouble is, I’ve never made stuffed cabbage before.  Or even eaten it. 

Rather than looking up a recipe, which would take all the spontaneity out of it, I picked up some ground meat mixture, pork and veal complete with herbs, from a butcher at the market.  I decided to bulk it up with some sautéed shredded cabbage and grated Cantal.  I blanched four cabbage leaves in boiling, salted water, formed oval patties out of the meat mixture, and wrapped the patties in the softened leaves.  I arranged them in my oval baking dish, and stuck the whole thing in the (rather hot) oven for about half an hour.

I thought they were just beautiful.

When they came out, the cabbage had browned in a few spots and the whole thing smelled terrific.  I served it with some leftover root vegetables (carrot, potato, and white beet which had been roasted with our Christmas capon) for a quick, warming, and filling meal.

Auvergnat-inspired Stuffed Cabbage with Roasted Root Vegetables

Now I’d love to take a weekend trip to see the Auvergnat volcanoes covered in snow and try some stuffed cabbage in its natural habitat.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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8 responses

5 01 2009
Jessica

That looks delicious. I haven’t clicked the link yet to find out what you mean by designer cabbage, but I’m enthralled. Looking forward to traveling the regions of France through your blog!

6 01 2009
Sam

Happy new year Camille! I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts, that’s a great idea!

7 01 2009
Trisha

I’m game to be educated about French regional cuisines! Looking forward to it. Cheers to you for 2009! May it bring you many good things (including good food, of course).

7 01 2009
City Girl

Happy New Year! I love your idea of touring France via food. Can’t wait to read more :)

7 01 2009
croquecamille

Jessica – The link is in French, but it is the delivery company of a well-known organic farmer just outside Paris. Restaurants that use his vegetables make sure to let the customers know, as they are quite expensive.

Sam – Thanks, and happy new year to you, too!

Trisha – I’m excited to learn more about French regional cuisine, too! ;)

City Girl – Good! I guess I’d better get to work!

10 01 2009
`James Provci

!. I make mine a little different way
1. (2 lbs) of very lean beef, (1lb) pork & (1) lb Veal.
2. either fresh, frozen or rehydrated mushrooms. Morchella crassipes (morels), Grifola frondosa (Hen of the woods) & Boletus edulis (Cepes, porcini) sauteed fro about 10 min, next Sautee Onion or shallot & Garlic Extra virgin olive oil, or butter & a shot of Sake.
3. 1 1/2 cups raw rice cooked about !/2 way. let rice stand to absorb water.
4. now in a very large bowl: layer each item beef,veal, pork, mushrooms,rice & what ever seasoning you like. just keep doing this untill all is added to the bowl.
5. beat 2 whole eggs and add to mixture (just toss gently don’t squeeze it)
6. remove vein & add only enough to roll up push end in with your finger. Place on a large Plater.
7. Take a very large roaster, layer the bottom with chopped cabbage & RINSED) sauerkraut. add (1) layer of stuffed cabbage,
8. next layer: chopped cabbage Sauerkraut between 1st & 2nd layers. add 2nd layer of stuffed cabbage.
9. put sauerkraut on top of last layer and cover the entire pot with the thick outer leafs (this you will discard leafs after cooking
8. flood 1/2 inch over cabbage rolls with chicken broth (Homemade better than canned) & cabbage water.
9, I pick all my wild mushrooms so when I make it I use 50% meat & the other 50% is mushrooms. If you buy the mushrooms this is quite expensive to make. For me I just go to the basement or freezer for them.
3 very large bowel layer beef
10 this will serve a large group. If the pot is to small just use a 1 more pot. I only use 2 layers of cabbage rolls.
PS sAVORY(WRINKLED ) CABBAGE IS BETTER.

13 01 2009
Mike

Hi, Camille
This is my first visit to your site and so far I like what I see.
I live in the Auvergne and can vouch for the great hearty food here such as Truffade and Aligot, and not forgetting the famous Puy lentils. There are 5 AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) cheeses in the Auvergne, more than any other region of France.
I look forward to your next article.

13 01 2009
croquecamille

Mike – Thanks! I lived in Auvergne, too, and I love the food and cheese available there. It’s so perfect for cold, wintry weather!




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