Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cabbage rolls with veal and parmesan

Ok, so there's no such thing as a perfect cookbook. Vegetable Harvest came close though. This recipe from the book was good, but not great. If I had followed the recipe exactly, I think it would have been inedible. It's an interesting concept - a mixture of ground veal, rice, parmesan, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, salt, pepper and ground nutmeg is wrapped in cabbage leaves, smothered in homemade tomato sauce and baked. The issue with the recipe is that that the seasonings are not proportionate to the amount of meat. For only 8 ounces of veal, the recipe calls for a half cup of chopped parsley, a half cup of chopped cilantro and a half cup of fresh rosemary. That's a ton of herbs to season a small amount of meat! And rosemary is extremely strong! I cut the rosemary back to about a tablespoon. The recipe also called for six cloves of garlic and a whopping 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. If I was making a pie, that much nutmeg wouldn't bother me, but for a savory dish? One that already contains a cup and a half of herbs and six cloves of garlic? I don't think so. I cut the garlic back to 2 cloves and used somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 of a teaspoon of nutmeg.

The next issue is that the cabbage rolls took double the time to bake as the recipe directed. My oven is very reliable, so it must have been a misprint in the recipe. Even then, the meat was slightly pink. The cabbage rolls, with my modifications tasted fine, but this dish is just not worth the effort. I spread the prep work out over a few days, but between making my own tomato sauce, cooking the rice, painstakingly peeling whole leaves off the cabbage head, washing, blanching and drying those leaves, making the ground meat mixture, rolling nine cabbage bundles and waiting for everything to bake, I had a few hours invested in this. But it's ok - if I don't experiment, I won't learn as much. I still love Patricia Wells.

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