If you ask a Romanian what is the traditional food for Christmas, for sure you’ll hear about sarmale. So, I couldn’t miss this recipe.
- 2 heads sour cabbage
- 2kg ground pork and beef (minced)
- 2 cups of rice
- 3 onions (finely chopped)
- 3 tablespoons tomato juice
- special seasoning for sarmale (salt, pepper, parsley, cilantro, thyme, dill, paprika, garlic, basil, chilli, ginger)
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 5 tablespoons sweet paprika
- black pepper
- ground black pepper
- bay leaves
- Remove core from cabbage, separate cabbage leaves and the big ones cut them in 2. I like to make big rolls and the perfect size for a leaf is as the hand size.
- In a big pot mix well the meat, rice, onions, tomato juice, seasoning, salt, paprika and ground pepper.
- Take every individual leaf and put 1 or 2 tablespoons of meat depending on the size of the leaf.
- Fold the meat into the cabbage leaves.
- Put the rolls into a big pot (I use a pressure cooker) and spread some tomato juice, paprika, bay leaves and black pepper.
- Fill the pot with water to reach the top level of rolls. From these quantities you can get around 70-80 rolls and this means 2 pots. But I do once only one pot and the remaining rolls for the second pot I freeze them in plastic bags for future use.
- Cook the rolls for about an hour in the pressure cooker. They can be done also in a normal pot but it takes 2 hours to be cooked. In this case it is recommended to mince some cabbage on the bottom of the pot before putting the rolls to avoid sticking. The level of water should be supervised and refilled when needed. Another option is to cook them in the oven at 180ºC for 2 hours and it’s probably the most tasty option.
Serve them with hot pepper, polenta and heavy cream. They are delicious and it worth the work to do them.