Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sarma and Remains of the Days

The cooking ceased for the last few days. We have a refrigerator filled with leftovers. This makes evening meals a snap, and allows for interesting combinations.

Two nights ago we had beer can chicken, boiled red potatoes with a little gumbo as gravy (yes, it was excellent gravy), and spicy greens.
 Gumbo reappeared as a stand-alone meal, too. Another night was spent re-enjoying the bratgers and potato, greens, and ham casserole

Yet, I had planned to make sarma (stuffed cabbage leaves) in the crockpot. I had already frozen a head of cabbage from the farmer's market, so I was committed to this dish. Yesterday, as we finished off the remains of the past several days, I prepared my sarma.

The Method

  1. Place a head of cabbage in the freezer until frozen solid (a couple of days). Transfer to the refrigerator two days before making the dish. 
  2. Using a sharp knife, remove the stem of the cabbage. Gently peel off several large leaves.
  3. Prepare the filling. Combine well:
    • 1# ground beef
    • 1/2# ground pork
    • 1/2# ground ham (using your new Kitchen Aid food grinder)
    • 1 C uncooked white rice
    • 1 onion, minced
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  4. Place a good portion of the filling in the middle of each cabbage leaf.
  5. Tucking in the sides, roll each leaf around the filling until it forms an oval packet.
  6. Spread 1# sauerkraut in the bottom of the crockpot
  7. Place the sarma rolls on the sauerkraut.
  8. Cover the rolls with a 15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes.
  9. Set crockpot to low and cook for 8-10 hours.
The Results

After a great Saturday filled with fun, a few errands, and friends, it was nice to have dinner ready when we were. The sarma were complemented by a steamer filled with brown rice (good enough to eat for breakfast, I might add) and a quick pot of lima beans cooked with a few onions sauteed in a piece of rendered bacon.

I'll open with the closing remark of Senior Chef #2 - "this might be my favorite meal you've made so far [since blogging, I'd like to think]." Sarma is comfort food at its best: easy to prepare, delicious, filling and - yet - only a small helping of guilt. The filling is light and savory. It absorbs the flavors of the tomatoes and sauerkraut. Amazingly, the cabbage retains some firmness despite the many hours of freezing and cooking. It is a straight-forward dish without a great deal of complexity.

We only ate 1/3, thus raising the possibility of another 1-2 meals this week.  This doubles or triples the overall rating for the dish. 

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Rebecca said...

ok, liking this blog site (i'm a blog virgin, btw) waaaayyy more than tv, even more than gossip girl!
QUICK QUESTION: what's the purpose in freezing the cabbage for the sarma? does it just make it a bit tougher so it holds up better when you good it or is it a way to get some of the H2O out of it?

Jim said...

Freezing the cabbage softens the leaves without having to cook them. They become very pliable. You don't run the risk of overcooking either. They're almost rubbery when they are thawed, but have a great texture after being cooked.

Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009