Cabbage rolls with bread sauce and roasted cabbage chips

I have made many a cabbage roll back in college. Mostly because green cabbage is 99 cents, and ground meat was really cheap as well. If there was anything I learned during my time at Boston University, it was how to pinch pennies. With my variation on cabbage rolls, I love using panade(a mixture of milk, bread crumbs, and eggs) to make the ground meat mixture especially soft and tender. Usually, Italians use that method for their meatballs, a. to stretch out their rations of ground meat, but also because that adds both moisture and tenderness to the end product. I sort of went down the route of making this dish center around cabbage and bread, just because I found that both of those ingredients tend to be on the humble side. That and I was watching Masterchef Australia recently, and they had a bread challenge(we had one in my season as well, but I got immunity and didn’t have to compete in that, which is like the story of my Masterchef experience honestly). So this would sort of be what I would have made if I got to actually cook in the bread challenge from my season.

For the components, we obviously have the cabbage roll with the panade beef mixture. But we also have a bread sauce, made with the braising liquid from the cabbage rolls and bread that has been toasted in brown butter to create a velvety sauce meets puree(think a wet polenta), and finished with some roasted cabbage chips. I wanted to try making cabbage chips since I do that with kale all the time and kale is just a cousin to cabbage anyways(if this was on the show, I would have probably done shards of melba toast as well to further highlight the bread). Overall, this dish is relatively simple and straightforward to make, since almost all of it is done in the oven, a single pan, and in a blender. It’s a relatively fast dish to make, and you can easily have dinner ready within 40 minutes with this recipe!

Makes 6 cabbage rolls:

For the cabbage rolls:
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
3 tbsp grated parmesan
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper
a pinch of paprika
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup diced onion
canola oil
8oz ground beef
6 green or savoy cabbage leaves

In a bowl, soak the bread crumbs with milk and egg. Saute the onion and garlic in oil in a pan on medium heat with the other seasonings first until the onions are translucent. Blend up the bread crumbs until soft. Mix the onions, bread puree, and meat together to form the filling for your cabbage rolls. With the cabbage, blanch the leaves in boiling water, then shock in ice water to keep them green, but to soften them up for rolling. Divide your filling among the 6 leaves, rolling each up and placing them seam side down in a lined shallow baking tray.

For the braising liquid:
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tspn Calabrian chili
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup tomato puree
2oz parmesan rind
1 cup beef stock

In the same pan that you sweated out the onions and garlic in, start by sweating out more onions and garlic, tomato paste, chili and bay leaf. Place in the rind and deglaze with tomato puree and beef stock. Stir constantly until everything has been mixed into the liquid and the bottom of the pan is nearly completely clean. Pour this liquid into the shallow baking tray with the cabbage rolls. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.

For the cabbage chips:
6 leaves green or savoy cabbage, stems removed
a pinch of salt
a pinch of black pepper
olive oil

Blanch and shock the cabbage leaves. Press the leaves between dry paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Toss the leaves in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lay out on a lined sheet tray, keeping the leaves at least 3 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F for at least 15 minutes, or until crunchy and golden brown.

For the bread sauce:
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup reserved braising liquid

In a pan, sauté the bread crumbs in butter until golden brown. Transfer into a blender and puree with the braising liquid until smooth and creamy.

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