Ever heard a serious intellectual utter the saying “This is how I roll?”
The term can not be found dating back nearly a millennium, originally written as a grand piece of poetry categorizing the “great men of yore” and their subsequent indulgences. The Kaiserchronik is a 12th-century chronicle of emperors. Though much of the material is legendary and fantastical, suggesting that large sections were compiled from earlier works, most of it is made up of short biographies, full of striking truths and even more striking similarities. For example the succession of the Romans from Julius Caesar (possibly the inventor of the 44 B.C Salad) all the way through Conrad III, the first king of Germany of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty all had an affinity for meat and grain, encased in leafy green biennials. On his deathbed, King Conrad might have used his last breath of sweet, sweet air to make a declaration of complete cabbage dependence as the last crop had finally been bitten by frost. He would have said something slong the lines of ” Countryman…if it is so that my meals have ceased from being presented in a totally tubular manner, then let me die. This world has nothing left for me. This is how I roll”.
I would have to say about 50% of my meals are not planned. They are wonderful accidents made up from scraps and remnants of other groceries, searching for purpose.
For example, on one late afternoon, we started getting hungry and did the old rapidly open and close the fridge trick. Hoping that every time we took a peek, something worth eating would magically appear, such as a pair two-inch thick ribeye’s and a 1905 Salad. Then maybe we might mosey up next to the oven to find a batch of buttery Potatoes Anna, blissfully bubbling while browning under a white-hot broiler. It wasn’t going to be that easy. What we did find was a perfectly suitable dinner for any man-child or world ruler. I give you a gift, in the form of an updated version of every child’s nightmare, the cabbage roll. No longer will you be subjected to grainy ground beef, mixed with maggot-like, gloopy rice, let alone the actual cabbage part of a cabbage roll. Usually when I have eaten this dish, the cabbage turns out to feel more like fresh skin peeled off a leprosy victim. Hungry yet?
To make this more appealing, we made a sort of mousse with chicken thighs, brown rice, and a ton of spices. And we didn’t pre-cook the cabbage leaves like some Bulgarians I know. If you roll your filling with raw cabbage, you might actually end up with a palatable texture. Lastly, we made a light tomato sauce to cover the rolls, using organic tomato bisque, lemon, and some heavy cream and butter from grass-fed cows. It makes a difference! This is really easy as you only have two stages of throwing stuff together and then some rolling. That’s it.
Try it tonight. While you’re at it, why don’t you challenge me to update one of your least favorite dishes from the olde country.
Preheat Oven to 375º F
Chicken Mousse (to be made ahead of time):
1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 green onions, quartered
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend on high for about one minute or until everything has been pulverized! Cover with plastic and set aside.
Peel off 10-12 whole cabbage leaves from a good-sized head. Cut out the thick part of the rib and discard. Set aside leaves.
1 17.5 oz container of tomato bisque or a can of high quality tomato soup
1 stick of salted grass-fed butter
The juice of one lemon, plus zest
2 small tomatoes, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan on medium heat, put everything in and cook until well incorporated. Set aside.
To roll the Cabbage, take a nice scoop full of the Chicken mousse (about 1/2 cup worth) and put on one side of the cabbage leaf. Roll once, then tuck the sides in and finish rolling up. Place seam side down on a 9×13 baking dish, no need for toothpicks youngster. Repeat process. Pour the tomato sauce over rolls and cover with foil. Bake covered for 30 Minutes, then uncover for a last 15.
They will be as hot as magma so give it a couple of minutes to pull itself together before noshing. If you have leftovers, it’s pretty amazing to eat one heated up on a buttery toasted sub roll with a little homemade garlic aioli. Just sayin’.
Oh and for an added bonus if meat wrapped in moist cabbage isn’t your thing, Cabbageman himself Mr. Crumpton whipped together some chicken and rice patties which were then pan-fried until golden! You can thank him later.