This recipe for a lovely and tasty side dish is less about the cabbage, and way more about the filling. Over the years, I’ve made the bundles so many different ways, but today I’m using a creamy mixture of bacon, onions and mushrooms. I’ve also included leeks and peas before.
So try this out as an easy and pretty side dish, varying the filling ingredients to your liking. You can even make these a day ahead and reheat. That’s a handy thing to do when it’s holiday season.
Inspired by this recipe on Epicurious here
1 large green cabbage
6 thick slices of bacon, diced
2 onions, thinly sliced
12 ounces sliced mushrooms
White sauce, approximately 1 1/2 cups
Core the cabbage, then place the whole cabbage in a large pot.
Add enough water to cover. Add a little salt, then bring the water to a boil. Cook the cabbage in the water for at least 7 minutes. Remove the cabbage to a colander and let it drain upside down.
If you feel you’ve overcooked the cabbage, place it in ice water immediately for a minute, then let it drain.
When the cabbage has cooled off, peel off the outer leaves and let them dry; set aside.
Cook the bacon over medium heat until fully cooked, but not crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
Pour off some of the bacon grease if there’s too much in the skillet. But save it, of course.
Reduce the heat slightly, then add the onions and sauté them for about 5 minutes. You want them soft and only slightly caramelized.
Remove the onions to a bowl, then add a little more bacon grease or olive oil as needed, and sauté the mushrooms. Towards the end when they’re almost fully sautéed, add salt and seasoning like garlic pepper.
Just for fun, I added a little cognac to the mushrooms and flamed them for a minute. This step adds a little flavor, but it not necessary.
Drain the mushrooms to get that wonderful mushroom jus, then combine the mushrooms and onions in a large bowl. Add the thyme. Save the jus for when you make the white sauce, if you like.
Add the white sauce and bacon to the cooled-off onions and mushrooms, then stir to combine gently. There’s your filling. It can be refrigerated overnight, if necessary.
To make the bundles, begin by lightly greasing a baking dish. Lay one cabbage leaf flat on your work surface, and top with filling. Don’t go overboard with the filling, or else it will all ooze out. Just a nice amount, that still allows you to comfortably roll and tuck the cabbage leaf around the filling. Also first trim off any really tough leaf ends before rolling.
Place the bundles smooth side up in the baking dish. Repeat.
Just before you want to serve, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a little olive oil over the top of the bundles, and bake just until there’s a little color on the cabbage, or about 20 minutes. If you want more color, you can always slide the baking dish under the broiler for a minute.
Alternatively, these can be baked one day, refrigerated, and then reheated on another day. They stay intact pretty well if you haven’t overfilled them!
If you want a pretty decadent side dish, toss a little grated Parmesan on the bundles before the browning and heating step.
These were delicious with pork loin, but would be equally wonderful with grilled white fish or roasted chicken.