How to make stuffed cabbage, a French classic made easy with ready made stuffing. Just add carrots, cook for an hour and a half and serve in bowls to enjoy the delicious juices.
The French know how to stuff their cabbage. Known as Chou Farci, it's a French classic dish that's comfort food but often seen in restaurants. I've made a cheat's version of the comfort food recipe by using ready-made poultry or pork stuffing.
The rest is in leaf management!
My husband, Antoine adores this dish. Somehow it looked difficult until I tried it one day and ever since, I've realised it's a lot easier than it looks!
If you have been following le blog since the beginning, you may remember me talking about Monsieur Dee. For the past few years, he and his charming colleagues have been serving their local clients with the best quality game and poultry at the farmers' market in Saint Germain-en-Laye, just west of Paris.
La Patronne, Christine, makes the most exquisite poultry stuffing which has a warming hint of quatre-épices (ground pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger), just perfect for this time of year. That was it - et voilà! My excuse to cut down the recipe by half. And, as it normally uses pork and/or veal, a stuffing of poultry makes it that bit lighter to digest. Use your favourite turkey or vegetarian nutty stuffing or - if you can't get a good quality stuffing sold separately - take off the skin of your favourite sausages.
How to Make Stuffed Cabbage (Like the French)
The secret to the recipe is to be organised with the leaves. It looks complicated but believe me, it isn't as long as you think.
Lay out each blanched cabbage leaf in order of largest to the smallest. Starting with the smallest leaves first, spread (or press in with your fingers) just a little stuffing on to each leaf facing upwards. Gradually put the leaves back in place starting around the cabbage heart, sticking them around with the minced meat. Tie 3 pieces of string around to keep the cabbage round and in place.
Place carrots in a large crock pot with a lid. Top with the chicken stock, stuffed cabbage, garlic, herbs and season with salt and pepper. As soon as the stock starts to boil, turn down the heat to simmering, cover and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes. A couple of times during cooking, pour over the stock on top of the cabbage.
Cutting into the stuffed cabbage at the end is also easier than it appears: just cut off the string and using a large sharp knife, cut out each portion.
Serve in large soup bowls with the chicken stock infused with the meat and cabbage juices. The photos don't do these lovely flavours justice!
We enjoyed it with a light and fruity Pinot Noir wine from Alsace.
Recipe for French Stuffed Cabbage
French Stuffed Cabbage
- 1 Savoy cabbage
- 1 kg (2lb 3oz) Ready-made poultry (or pork) stuffing
- 1.5 litres (3 pints) Good quality chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves peeled, finely chopped
- 10 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 carrots peeled, cut into small slices
- pinch salt & pepper to taste
- Cut off the first tough outside leaves and wash them thoroughly (some people discard them but I don't like to waste). Cut off the bottom root. Remove all leaves, putting each of them together in order of size from each layer. This will make assembly so much quicker. Once you get to the inner yellow leaves, just leave them attached to the heart.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanche the leaves for no more than a minute (I take each layer and do it say, 5 or 6 at a time) and remove with a slotted spoon. Blanche the cabbage heart for a minute and set aside.
- Starting with the smallest leaves first, spread (or press in with your fingers) just a little stuffing on to each leaf facing upwards. Gradually put the leaves back in place starting around the cabbage heart, sticking them around with the minced meat. Tie 3 pieces of string around to keep the cabbage round and in place.
- Place carrots in a large crock pot with a lid. Top with the chicken stock, stuffed cabbage, garlic, herbs and season with salt and pepper. As soon as the stock starts to boil, turn down the heat to simmering, cover and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes. A couple of times during cooking, pour over the stock on top of the cabbage.
- Carefully remove the cabbage from the stock. On a solid cutting board that can catch the juices, remove the string and using a sharp knife, slice into 4-6 portions.Serve directly in soup bowls with the cabbage and stock.
I've always wanted to make a stuffed cabbage. There was a recent French movie, that involved a chef going to the tundra, and there she made a stuffed cabbage. I think it was stuffed with salmon. Definitely on my list to make in 2016!
Stuffed with salmon? Now that sounds interesting, David. Can you remember the French movie name? If not, will try and look it up. Merci x
Such a beautiful presentation! And so tasty, too! I'm already ready for a break from the sweets and heavy foods 🙂
Thanks Liz. Vive a light and tasty festive season!
I go nuts for choucrout these cold days.
Alsacien Schmid at Gare du l'Est has it 5 different ways including with Champagne..but a different animal altogether ;))
Carol - Choucroute and stuffed cabbage are two totally different things. One is fermented and this recipe is just cooked cabbage leaves (al dente) and stuffed.
Ah, now I understand! I was wondering how you did this! I've made cabbage rolls before (each leaf stuffed with a mince, rice and mozzarella filling then topped with a tomato sauce and baked), but this is much simpler! You could actually add the tomato sauce and give this an Italian twist! 🙂 That photo of the cabbages is killing me! We never see such beautiful cabbages here, and I don't know why. Wish you could send some over!
Oh, I love the sound of your Italian version with individual leaves but yes, this would be great using this technique and adapting it to your recipe. Go for it, Christina!
This looks delicious. A great after Christmas meal that would be light, satisfying and so good after the rich fare.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Thanks Susan. Wishing you all the best for a wonderful Christmas too!