Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
paired with Pine Ridge Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Serves 4

With their succulent sausage and bacon stuffing, these hearty cabbage rolls want a powerful wine partner, like our Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. You can count on the mountain fruit to produce a wine of exceptional intensity and enough tannin structure to counter the dish’s richness.

1 large head Savoy cabbage
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons butter1finely chopped onion
2cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and chopped fine
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
1 pound ground pork sausage
4 slices bacon, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black and white peppercorn
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 eggs, beaten
2½ cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1¼ cup basic tomato sauce
¾ teaspoon caraway seed, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 4 pieces
Crème fraîche

Discard any damaged outer leaves of the cabbage and cut away enough of the core to make the leaves easy to remove from the head. Carefully remove and reserve the 12 largest leaves. Set the heart aside for another use. Cut out the thick lower part of the central rib of each of the 12 leaves without disturbing the shape of the leaves.

Blanch the cabbage leaves in a large pot of salted boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the leaves in a colander and immediately refresh them in a pot of cold water. When the leaves are cool, carefully lift them out of the water and drain thoroughly on kitchen towels.

Soak the fresh breadcrumbs in the milk and set aside.

In a skillet, melt the butter, add the onion, and sauté until translucent. Stir in the garlic and thyme; cook the mixture for a few seconds and then transfer the onion mixture to a bowl. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, add the sausage, bacon, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and parsley and mix well.

Squeeze any excess milk from the bread crumbs and add to the sausage mixture along with the beaten egg. Do not overwork the mixture. Sauté a small piece of the mixture; taste for seasoning.

Divide the sausage mixture among the cabbage leaves, spooning it onto the center bottom of each leaf. Fold in the sides of the leaves and roll them tightly to enclose the stuffing.

In a large skillet, pack the cabbage rolls tightly in one layer, with seam side down, and pour the chicken stock around the bundles. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 35 to 45 minutes or until firm. Remove the cabbage rolls to a warm platter.

You should have about 1½ cups of broth remaining. Reduce the broth to approximately ¾ cup and whisk in the tomato sauce and caraway seed; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the cold butter, whisking until the butter is emulsified into the sauce.

Plate the cabbage rolls into warmed soup bowls. Spoon the tomato sauce over the rolls. Serve with crème fraîche.