Corn Bread-Stuffed Cabbage with Mushroom-Brandy Sauce

Adapted from Still Life with Menu
Preparation time (after corn bread and sauce are prepared): 1 1/2 hours
Yield: About 16 cabbage rolls. Serves 6 to 8, depending on the context.

The corn bread stuffing in this dish is abundantly seasoned with many different herbs and spices, most savory, and some sweet. Then it gets wrapped in tender cabbage leaves, which are bathed in exquisite Mushroom-Brandy Sauce and baked.

NOTE: Make the corn bread and the sauce ahead of time.

1 large head green cabbage
2 medium-sized onions, minced
3 medium-sized cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 stalks celery, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried dill
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
1 batch Simple Corn Bread (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 batch Mushroom-Brandy Sauce (recipe follows)
  1. Fill a large soup pot with water, heat it to boiling, and lower heat to a simmer. Core the cabbage, and gently place it in the simmering water, core-end down. Cover and cook until the cabbage leaves pull off easily and are supple enough to roll without breaking. (You might have to experiment with one or two to determine when it is ready.) Then remove the head of cabbage, drain well in a colander, and set aside.
  2. In a heavy skillet, cook onions and garlic in butter over medium heat for several minutes until the onions become translucent.
  3. Add celery, salt, and all seasonings. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring intermittently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the celery is very tender and everything is well mingled.
  4. Crumble the corn bread into a large bowl. Add the sautéed mixture and the lemon juice, and mix well.
  5. Break off the cabbage leaves one at a time. Place about 3 tablespoons stuffing at the core end, and roll toward the tip, tucking in the sides. Arrange the cabbage rolls in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan in rows, touching. You'll get about 16 rolls–which should fit snugly in the pan.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Ladle half the sauce over the rolls. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the rolls are heated through and the sauce is bubbly. Serve hot, passing a gravy boat with the remaining sauce, so people can help themselves to extra, if desired.


Adapted from Still Life with Menu
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

A little butter for the pan
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or a 10-inch diameter cast-iron skillet.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all dry ingredients. It’s not necessary to sift, but make sure that the sugar and the baking soda are well distributed.
  3. Beat together buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly with a few quick strokes.
  4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife probing the center comes out clean.

Mushroom-Brandy Sauce

Adapted from Still Life with Menu
Preparation time: About 30 minutes
Yield: About 2 cups

1 1/2 cups milk (lowfat or soy okay)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brandy or dry sherry
3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Black pepper to taste
  1. Heat the milk just to the boiling point. Remove from heat before it actually boils and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy skillet, sauté mushrooms in butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add brandy or sherry and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes.
  4. Gradually sprinkle in the flour and mix it into the mushrooms with a wire whisk. Keep whisking and cooking another 5 minutes. Be sure the heat is not too high.
  5. Stir in the hot milk. Cook over low heat, stirring intermittently until smooth and thickened, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
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