This is my "Musical Food" TD entry titled "Cabbage Rolls and Nero d'Avola for Geddy Lee".
Rock group 'Rush' will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18, 2013. Going to Rush concerts, buying Rush albums and partying with my friends to the music of Rush was an integral part of my adolescence.
I came across some interesting information when internet surfing for this TD to find out what Geddy Lee likes to eat. I didn't find anything in particular about his favourite foods but I did find out his parents were Polish. I also found out Geddy is a wine enthusiast, his favourites are Burgundies and he loves Barolo. Huh, almost the same as me. My favourite wine is Barolo and I love Burgundies. I've got a Nero d'Avola premium kit wine aged 5 years that is good and I thought Geddy would appreciate it, especially since he's not a wine snob. It's a smooth and robust red wine, what's not to love? Because of my Polish, Russian, German and Austrian ancestry from my mother's side I know how to feed a Polish son -- CABBAGE ROLLS! Let the food begin.
I'd heard that putting a fresh cabbage head into the freezer and thawing later would eliminate the need to boil the cabbage head to get the leaves off. I decided to try it and it worked! Some of the leaves had a slight pink tinge but they tasted like normal raw cabbage. I prefer the taste of saur cabbage heads for cabbage rolls but we didn't make any this past autumn. The cost of saur cabbage heads in the store (that don't taste nearly as delicious as our homemade
) borders on criminal. Gave me an opportunity to find out freezing cabbage heads is a good alternative when our own saur heads are not around.
The frozen cabbage head took about 24 hours to thaw on the counter. Make sure you thaw it in a bowl, a lot of liquid comes out. Long grain brown rice is beside it.
Traditionally raised 'limosine X red angus' ground beef, onions, V8, Celtic raw sea salt and caraway seeds.
Picked up a cool mortar and pestle last week with a low tolerance in between so you don't have to chase what you're grinding. Works great with raw salt and produces a consistent small grain. Much better than using a coffee grinder that produces salt powder, small grains and leaves too many large grains.
Got a chance to run to town and brought more onions into the party.
I undercooked the rice by half the time and cut the water by about 15% to prevent it from turning into mush while the cabbage rolls cooked.
I browned and carmelized the different ingredients separately to control how brown they got. I added the caraway seeds to the garlic when browning because of their relatively small size to everything else.
When browning the beef I added salt, black pepper, cayenne and cinnamon. I normally add cinnamon to everything I make with ground beef including hamburgers. I don't put in enough to taste cinnamon, just enough to give it righteous back vocals.
Adding the can of diced tomatoes.
The cabbage leaves came off the head easily. I chopped up the too small centre and the outer ripped leaf to put in the bottom of the pan to keep the cabbage rolls from sticking. Put olive oil and V8 in the bottom of the roasting pan.
My partner, Carol, picked up a new way to roll them that helps them stay together better. Either in your hand or on a surface, put filling in a mound close to where the cabbage leaf grows out of the core. It's tempting to overfill but the trouble it makes for rolling will cure that temptation quick.
Leave the sides open, tuck and roll the filling snugly to the end of the leaf.
Then tuck the ends into the filling like so.
I've never smoked cabbage rolls low and slow before. I wanted to cook them with the lid off to infuse them with smoke so added a lot of V8 to make up for the open top and to give the rice enough liquid to finish cooking.
Two beautiful leaves left, what to do? McGyver some new filling. Raided the fridge and came out with boiled potatoes and white cheddar cheese. Chopped them up, seasoned with a chopped dill pickle, parsley, caraway seed, celery seed, ground garlic and onion.
They sat on top and I hoped the steam rising while cooking would keep them moist enough.
The work done, I toasted mine and Geddy's Polish ancestors.
Then I made a bloody Mary and added some Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce to honour my paternal Jamaican ancestors. Half of my Jamaican ancestors emigrated there from Germany so they appreciate the cabbage rolls, too, but they definitely drink rum.
After about 2 hours at 260'F I opened the kamado to check the cabbage rolls. The two McGyvered rolls were burning so I quickly pulled them out. Upon opening them for inspection I found out they weren't cooked enough to melt the cheese. I ran out and put the lid on the pan and cooked another hour and a half. At least I accomplished two hours of smoke infusion.
And the final pan of cabbage roll beauty.
This plate's for you, Geddy! Plated on my late Oma's good plates we used for Christmas and special occasions. There's a lot of love and good memories in that plate with one more from today.
PLEASE USE THIS PHOTO FOR VOTING.
I found an unfamiliar but nice sweetness in these rolls and I think that's because the cabbage was frozen first and then thawed. I added more tomato sauce from the pan when eating because I love tangy slow-cooked tomato so much. I also loved the addition of smoke to this dish, it didn't scream smoke, just said it softly. All in all turned out to be a delicious tribute to my music inspiration, Geddy Lee of Rush.
Thanks for looking.