I had a craving for a greek dish called “SARMADES” or “LAHANODOLMADES” which is a northern greek version of cabbage leaf rolls, stuffed with a mixture of rice and minced meat, strongly-flavored with lemon and cumin, that are time-consuming in their assembly, each one roll and piled on top of one another, then cooked and simmered gently, over a low fire for several hours.
It’s a wonderful dish requiring much active hands-on time, just like the smaller rice & fresh herbs-stuffed grape vine leaves dish, coated with an egg-lemon sauce, called “dolmades”, that many of you are familiar with.
*It’s intriguing how seemingly incidental food cravings one can have, coincide with those experienced by your far-off family members, and be identically-timed even when they’re overseas ! This is what happened when I called my parents last weekend and while I was preparing this reinterpreted dish, they were preparing their original version !
Here’s a deconstructed version. No pre-boiling of the cabbage to soften and loosen the leaves, to be later peeled off, one by one, and then stuffed with the meat and rice mixture and rolled up, piled up and finally cooked in a broth. I chose to braise the meats and shred them, as I did with the cabbage and serve it all as a heartier (and messier) casserole. I add an extra kick of mustard that incorporates an additional warmer dimension to this hearty winter dish.
You can use store-bought broth and beer (or omit and replace the beer and use extra water or broth) to braise and simmer everything and if possible, prepare or modify your broth by including and using all the extra vegetable peelings, stems and cabbage core included in this dish, to create it, thus wasting nothing, or at least trying not to.
We’ve been lucky here in France with relatively good weather when the sun is out from mid-day to early evening, but with still chilly mornings and evenings, so I’ll continue with a few more winter dishes before launching the spring preparations soon enough . . . :)