Cabbage Dumplings With Country Sausage
Three of Atlanta’s leading chefs went head-to-head in the 2013 Cook-Off for a Cause, a culinary competition designed to pair Italy’s famous Allegrini Palazzo della Torre wine with a signature dish. Chef Kevin Gillespie of Gunshow shares his recipe, which took second place and resulted in $2,000 being donated to The FitWit Foundation. Read more about the competition over at Getaways for Grownups.
1 3/4 lbs. whole or 70% lean pork shoulder
3/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1 Tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. fresh sage
1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp. garlic, finely minced
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
If you’re starting with whole pork shoulder, cut it into cubes and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. Chill the fine die and other metal parts of a meat grinder, then grind the cold pork with the fine die. Return the pork to the refrigerator until you are ready to make the sausage. It’s important to keep everything cold when making sausage (even your hands!) so that the grinder cuts the cold fat into little chunks rather than smearing it into a sloppy mess. Combine the fresh sage, salt, garlic, black pepper, rubbed sage, red pepper, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and ice water in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the cold ground pork to the bowl and, using gloved hands, and mix together.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Pinch a small piece of sausage from the bowl, thoroughly cook it in the skillet, then taste it. Adjust the seasoning in the bowl as necessary.
Note: This sausage works best when made at least a day ahead. You can cover it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 to 3 days.
Makes about 1 3/4 lbs.
Smoked Pork Broth:
3 lbs. smoked ham hocks, shinbones or knuckles
10 cups chicken stock
Put the smoked pork bones in an 8-quart stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 3 minutes. Strain the bones and discard the liquid. Rinse the bones under running water.
Return the bones to the pot and add the chicken stock. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Cut the heat down so that the liquid simmers very gently; you only want a few bubbles coming up now and then. Using a ladle, skim and discard any foam and fat from the pot. Simmer the stock very gently for 2 hours, skimming now and then. Pull the pot from the heat and let cool for 1 hour.
Using tongs, remove and discard the bones. (You can shred the meat from the pork bones and reserve it for another use.) Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and then through a double layer of wet cheesecloth to remove any sediment. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 6 months.
Makes about 8 cups.
To make the dumplings, fill an 8-quart Dutch oven three-quarters full with water, and bring to a rapid boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Completely submerge the cabbage leaves in the boiling water, using tongs to press each one down into the water as you add it. Blanch the leaves until they are bendable, about 3 minutes. Use the tongs to transfer the leaves to the ice bath and dunk them in the ice bath to cool. Pluck the leaves from the ice bath and pat dry. Remove and discard most of the tough stems from each leaf. Discard the blanching water and reserve the pot.
For each dumpling, scoop up about 1/4 cup sausage and shape it into a small brick. Set the sausage brick on the upper third of a cabbage leaf. Fold the top of the leaf down just about to the middle of the sausage and then diagonally fold the two sides of the cabbage in toward the middle. The leaves will cross over where you removed the stem. You’ll have a little parcel that looks like an envelope with the bottom flap still open. Fold the entire packet toward you, over the cabbage leaf, to completely enclose the sausage. You’ll have a nice, neat dumpling with the veins of the cabbage showing a design on the top.
Place the dumplings in a single layer in the Dutch oven. Add just enough smoked pork broth to cover the dumplings. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the diameter of the Dutch oven and press it directly onto the surface of the stock; the parchment circle helps to keep the dumplings in contact with the stock. Bring the stock to a low simmer over medium heat, then cut the heat down so the liquid is justbelow a simmer, and poach the dumplings until the largest top vein inthe cabbage is tender when tested with a knife, 20 to 30 minutes. You can also test with a thermometer, which should read about 180 degrees F wheninserted into the center of a dumpling. But tender cabbage leaves reallyare the way to tell when your dumplings are done. When the cabbageis tender, it won’t have a tendency to unwrap, but will stay folded in the dumpling shape.
Carefully remove the dumplings and trim off any excess cabbage sticking out of the bottom. Re-season the poaching liquid. To serve, set dumplings in each shallow serving bowl and spoon in about 1/2 cup of the seasoned poaching liquid.
The fully cooked dumplings will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator; just separate the dumplings and poaching liquid to keep the cabbage from getting mushy. You can also vacuum-seal the dumplings and freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw, if frozen, and then gently reheat the dumplings in a Dutch oven with some pork stock and the parchment circle.
Serve with Caramelized Turnip and Potato Puree:
1 fist-sized, about 8 oz., russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 baseball-sized turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
Combine the potatoes and turnips in a 2 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and add just enough of the cream to cover the vegetables. Stir in the salt. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Watch carefully because once it starts bubbling, it will boil over lightning fast! Remove the lid and cut the heat down to low. Simmer, without stirring, until the mixture starts to separate and looks like it is curdling, about 1 1/2 hours. The milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan and form a thick coating, and the vegetables will start to caramelize. I realize it’s hard not to stir, and it seems like a crazy long time, but you have to cook the mixture this long without stirring for it to caramelize and develop a really rich flavor; you want the cream to reduce down in volume and thicken so the finished puree has a silky texture.
Pull the pan from the heat and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the mixture. Spoon the vegetables into an upright blender and add just enough of the cooking cream to cover the vegetables. Blend to a smooth and velvety puree, about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer for an even more velvety texture. Your puree will be about the consistency of a thick custard.
Makes about 3 cups.
Serve the dumplings atop the puree, and garnish with a slice of carrot.