malfouf (stuffed cabbage rolls)

Salaam alaykum dear readers!

 

Similar to stuffed grape leaves, if you've never had this dish you'll want to try it. It is a favorite dish that can be made vegetarian or with meat.

You'll want a medium sized green cabbage, that is firm, has a bright color, and crisp leaves that are tight against the stem.

The first thing to do is prepare the cabbage leaves. Wash the outside of the cabbage with water. Place a large pot filled with about 15 cups of water and two teaspoons of salt on the stove over high heat. Pierce the core end of the cabbage with something like a knife honer or a long pronged fork, set aside. Place a colander on a large plate or a sheet pan, set aside.

Once the water comes to a boil, submerge the cabbage. As the leaves start to soften, take a sharp knife and carefully cut the leaves away from the core; use a pair of tongs to gently remove them and let them boil for a couple of minutes so they are pliable, then place them in the colander to drain. I usually work on four leaves at a time, i.e. while four leaves are separated from the core and boiling I start cutting the next four leaves away from the core etc. 

The next step is to make your filling which consist of rice, meat, melted butter, olive oil and spices. For the meat you can either use coarsely ground lamb (from the leg) or ground beef no more than 20% fat.

Place the filling in the fridge for about 1/2 hour. I like to place the filling in the fridge so that it can "stick together" which makes it a lot easier to work with. 

 

Before you start rolling, it makes it easier if you sort your cabbage leaves:

  • If the cabbage leaf is big cut out the thick part of the rib and then cut the leaf in half. Each half then becomes a leaf.

  • If the leaf is too small you can combine two smaller leaves.

 

Also, if your leaf has a tear, use part of another leaf to patch it. If you have leaves left, don't throw them out as you'll use them at the bottom of the pot along with any ribs you cut out. If the smaller leaves are hard to role due to the rib, you can flip the leaf so the rounded part of the rib is face up and make tiny slits in it which will allow it to roll more easily when you flip it back over before stuffing.

.

To roll the cabbage leaves you'll need:

  • The cabbage leaves

  • The filling

  • Cutting board (to roll the cabbage leaves on)

  • Tray (to put the rolled cabbage leaves in)

To roll the cabbage rolls, take a leaf and place it on your cutting board with the dull side up and the core side nearest to you. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling right above the core base and even it out lengthwise of the leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf in and over the filling. Then roll the leaf up snugly towards the top of the leaf. Set the rolled cabbage leaf aside in your pan seam side down. Continue rolling until all the filling is finished.

 

The hardest part about rolling cabbage leaves is guesstimating how much filling to put into each leaf so that you have no filling left and very little leaves left.

Now it's time to cook the cabbage rolls. If I'm making meat cabbage rolls then I also like to place meat at the bottom of the pan, this not only adds wonderful flavor to the broth but it's yummy to eat the meat along with the cabbage rolls. You can use lamb, beef (tender cut of meat), or chicken. Or you do not have to have meat.

I always boil the meat first and skim off the foam that rises to the top. If using chicken, after I boil the chicken I give it a quick sear. Remember you are not cooking the meat at this point you are just wanting to skim the foam off.

You can cook the cabbage rolls in a dutch oven on the stove or in a stainless steel pot, a 6-quart size pot is good.

Place your pot of the stove, line the bottom of the pot with any leftover cabbage leaves if you had any leftover. On top of this, place the meat and the garlic cloves. Drizzle olive oil over the meat and sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice, salt & black pepper.

Start layering the rolled cabbage rolls seam side down into the pan. Try to fill as many gaps as possible so they are snug.

Place a small plate inverted over the top of the cabbage rolls. This will help to weigh them down so they don't float up as they cook. You will then make and pour the broth around the edge of the pot so that it just covers the rolls. If you have any broth left, hold on to it as you may need to add more as the cabbage rolls cook.

Place the lid on the pot and turn it to high heat until it starts to bubble then turn to medium low. Cook for about 45 minutes, check a cabbage roll at 45 minutes to see if done. To check it, remove a cabbage roll and cut it open on a plate and taste to see if the rice, leaf and meat are cooked. If you need to continue cooking, if the liquid level has fallen so that the top cabbage rolls are no longer in broth when it's bubbling with the plate on top then add more broth. If you don't have any more broth add water. Depending on how many cabbage rolls you had you may need more or less liquid. When the rolls are done there should be very little liquid in the bottom of the pot.

Once the cabbage rolls are done, remove from the heat. Carefully remove the inverted plate with tongs or pot holder as it's hot.

 

Remove the cabbage rolls carefully one by one with a pair of tongs onto a platter.

I like to eat the rolled cabbage leaves and meat with lebne.  

Did you make the recipe? Comment below.

Servings: about 20

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 3/4 pound coarsely ground lamb (from the leg) or ground beef 10% - 20% fat

  • 2 cups rice (Egyptian rice preferred) but basmati or jasmine will do

  • Drizzle olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup melted butter

  • Drizzle of water

  • 1 head cabbage (medium)

For the broth

  • 4 cups of water

  • 2 freshly squeezed small lemons

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the bottom of the pot

  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and each clove cut in half

  • Half of a chicken, cut into pieces (seared) or 1/2 pound beef sliced and boiled.

Instructions

  1. Place a large pot filled with about 15 cups of water and two teaspoons of salt on the stove over high heat.

  2. Wash the outside of the cabbage with water and then pierce the core end of the cabbage with something like a knife honer or a long pronged fork, set aside.

  3. Place a colander on a large plate or a sheet pan, set aside.​

  4. Once the water comes to a boil, submerge the cabbage. The leaves will start to soften and come away from the core; as they do remove them and let them boil for a couple of minutes so they are pliable, then place them in the colander to drain.

  5. In a medium bowl combine the ingredients for the filling: rice, drizzle of olive oil, salt, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, drizzle of water, and melted butter. Mix well with a spoon to combine. Then add your ground meat and mix well using your hands. Wash your hands well.  

  6. Roll the cabbage leaves using the directions in the article above.

  7. Cook the cabbage leaves using the directions in the article above. Sahten!

SUBSCRIBE TO NEW POSTS
  • Instagram

© 2020 by Journey to Salaam | journeytosalaam@yahoo.com