Stuffed Savory Cabbage

From Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters

Serves 4 to 6

  1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and trim the core but leave the cabbage whole. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, plunge in the cabbage, and simmer for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the whole cabbage with a skimmer and let it drain, upside down, in a colander or on a dry towel.
  2. Prepare the stuffing: Peel and chop the onion, peel and slice the garlic, and cut the bacon into small dice. Heat a saute pan and add the bacon. When it has started to render some fat, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have started to brown. Add the sausage meat and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Cut the crusts off the bread and tear it into small pieces, pour the milk into a bowl, and soak the bread in it for 5 minutes. Squeeze the milk out of the bread and add the bread to the sausage mixture. Chop the herbs and add to the stuffing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Delicately open up the cabbage by peeling the leaves back to create a cavity in the center. Season with salt and pepper and pack the stuffing into the center of the cabbage. Fold the leaves back, completely encasing the stuffing, and tie the cabbage with a string to help it keep its shape. Put it in a large baking dish, pour the tomato sauce around it, cover, and bake for 1 hour. Check after 30 minutes, and add some water or white wine if the tomato sauce has been reduced too much. Cut off the string and serve the cabbage in the baking dish or on a platter surrounded by the sauce, with parsley leaves scattered over it.