Serious Eats: Recipes

Meat Lite: Stuffed Savoy Cabbage

Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by the book coauthored by the two, Almost Meatless, due out in spring 2009. This week, stuffed cabbage!

As a kid, my neighbor's grandmother always made stuffed cabbage when she came to visit. My friend called these savory bundles "pigeons" (the Polish name for the dish, Golabki, means pigeon), though she assured me that they weren't made from the pesky birds. The name instead refers to the shape of the filled leaves.

The actual ingredients were a mystery, and I never pressed the issue because pigeons were delicious and, as a fledgling vegetarian, I didn't want to know. I've been thinking about this lately because I read that the final scene in the movie Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist takes place at the East Village restaurant Veselka, where I ate many plates of vegetarian stuffed cabbage as an NYU student.

They were never as good as my neighbor's grandmothers, which were obviously stuffed with tons of meats. I created an Almost Meatless version of "pigeons" that combines the hearty richness of beef with the earthy flavor of mushrooms. My take on this classic has only an ounce and a half of beef per serving, but preserves all the beefy flavor I remember.

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