After numerous requests from my husband for stuffed cabbage, I set out to make the dish. The recipe is from a now cancelled series on the Cooking Channel that featured Laura Calder, a Canadian chef who focused on French cuisine. In fact, I had made this dish with some success about five years ago; however, last night’s attempt was an epic failure.
Some of the responsibility for my culinary mega flop is mine. Rather than buying the savoy cabbage called for by the recipe, I mistakenly purchased a Napa, or Chinese, cabbage since it was marked “Savoy” on the shelf.
The recipe also contributed to this disaster, however, by directing me to blanch the cabbage for 5 to 7 minutes. When I went to drain it, the cabbage leaves looked so limp that I had to carefully remove them from the pot with a spider and submerge them in a bowl of ice water. There was no way they could have withstood the recipe’s draining and running under ice-cold water.
When I finally laid the “blanched” leaves on a cotton dish towel, they were so translucent and limp that I knew they were unusable. To put it mildly, I was dismayed. I didn’t want to wind up with nothing after having spent considerable time prepping all the other ingredients.
I looked at my cutting board and assessed what could be salvaged. The key ingredient, of course, would have to be the sausage meat; however, the chopped onions, shallot, garlic and mushrooms also had potential. Then it hit me: sausage ragù. Fortunately, I had plenty of canned imported tomatoes on hand that would bring everything together. In fact, even the fresh thyme and butter could be used to finish the improvised ragù. . . The only hitch was the cooking time: close to two hours.
Well, we wound up having a late supper, indeed two hours late, but the stuffed-cabbage recipe’s ingredients were repurposed into a marvelously tasty ragù for rigatoni accompanied by a much needed glass (or two) of Chianti.
Well, I guess all’s well that ends well.