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Stuffed Cabbage (Chou Farci)

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This is a traditional French dish. I like it because it uses cabbage as the main ingredient and not as an over cooked school vegetable. The method sounds difficult but once you start to unwrap and then stuff the cabbage it falls into place.

The classic French recipes use a blend of spices called quatre-epices, these can be difficult to find so I have suggested a different blend.

The cabbage keeps well and can be reheated the next day.

Large Savoy Cabbage (about 600 g)
250 g pork sausage meat
250 g minced pork or veal
1 small onion (or a few shallots), peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeed and chopped
50 g white breadcrumbs
Milk to soak the breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Teaspoon chopped chives
3 or 4 gratings of fresh nutmeg
Large pinch of powdered ginger
Large pinch of powdered cinnamon
300 ml chicken stock (or you can use a mixture of wine and stock)
Salt and black pepper


Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut the core (this should come out as a cone 3 or 4 cm high)
Blanch the whole cabbage in boiling water for a few minutes to soften the leaves
Remove the cabbage and run under cold water, set aside with core side facing downwards to cool
Soften the breadcrumbs in a few tablespoons of milk and then squeeze dry
In a large bowl mix the meats, onion, garlic, herbs, spices, egg and breadcrumbs, ensure that everything is well mixed and there are no lumps of spices
Add salt and black pepper
Put the cabbage, core side down on a large board
Carefully unwrap each leaf until you get to the core, it should look like a large flower
Place about a third of the stuffing in the centre of the cabbage, fold the leaves back and continue adding stuffing until the cabbage is reassembled
Tie the cabbage with kitchen string
Carefully transfer the cabbage to a deep, casserole dish
Pour over cooking liquid, partially cover and cook slowly for 2 - 3 hours
It can either be cooked on top of the stove or in the oven on a low heat (gas mark 2 or 150 degrees)
Remove the cabbage, leave this to rest for 10 minutes and then slice into portions
Serve with boiled potatoes and green vegetables
Most of the liquid should have evaporated by the end of cooking. However you can use the remainder as a sauce (reduce this and make a sauce or gravy with double cream, butter or corn starch)

Suggested Sausages

There are quite a few flavourings used already. So use a good, plain pork sausage. A bit of fat works well with this dish - so rare breed sausages are a good choice

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