Do you have a recipe which just has so many happy memories connected with it that every time you see it in your recipe book you smile? One that always seems to guarantee a happy and cosy evening with friends either old and treasured or maybe new? This is mine.
I've been cooking this since I was a student. It's easy, although I won't lie and say it's super-quick to put together. It's also very economical but makes people feel like they've been made a fuss of because it took a little effort. It's not run-of-the-mill, at least not in the UK, but none of the flavours are so unusal that they're going to offend. You just can't lose with this one.
1 large cabbage, ideally Savoy
500g/ 1lb beef mince/ground beef
1 onion, finely minced
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp raw white rice
salt and pepper to taste
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp oregano
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Strip the leaves from the outside of the cabbage until you are pulling off leaves less than about 3 inches high. Wash the leaves then dunk into the boiling water for about 2 minutes. You'll probably have to do this in batches. Drain the cabbage leaves, refresh with cold water and then drain again in a colander.
Chop the remaining centre leaves of the cabbage and pop them into your slow cooker.
Go back to the bigger, outer leaves and cut a 'v' shape out of the base, as shown above. This is to take out the inflexible core which will stop you folding up your cabbage leaf parcels.
Mix the beef, rice, egg, 1 tsp paprika and onion in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Taking about 2 tbsp of mixture at a time (less once you get to smaller leaves), place the meat just above the 'V' cut on a leaf with the 'V' cut closest to you. Bring in the sides of the leaf then roll the cabbage leaf away from you, over the meat, creating a parcel. Place each parcel, seam side down, onto the chopped cabbage in the slow cooker. You can have more than one layer of parcels, no problem. It will look like the top picture.
Once you have completed your parcels, hopefully running out of mixture and leaves at about the same time, tip the tomatoes over the entire pile of cabbage parcels. Sprinle the second tsp of paprika, the oregano and the sugar over the top of the tomatoes and season again, although go easy on the salt.
Cook on Low for 7-8 Hours or on High for 3-4. Serve with mashed potatoes, not forgetting to give each person some of the chopped cabbage on the side with their parcels.
I've never cooked this in the slow cooker before and it was heavenly. The parcels are flavoursome, even non-cabbage-lovers seem to like this and you are left with a wonderful soup in the bottom of the slow ooker which you can use for another meal. The meat cooks gently and the cabbage doesn't fall apart as in some other recipes. The parcels look so pretty, especially with a nice green cabbage like Savoy and the house smelt wonderful when we returned from a bracing walk in the woods - real "log cabin food" as we call it! This remains one of my favourite recipes of all time and it always makes me happy to roll up those little parcels knowing I'm going to have a lovely evening and some scrummy leftovers to boot.
Oh, and why is there no finished product photo? I'm really sorry but it smelt so good we got on and ate and totally forgot until the last plate was wiped that we needed a picture!
If you like this recipe and want to find some more cosy recipes for autumn, why not have alook over at Life As Mom where many other talented cooks are sharing their ideas for what makes for a cosy supper.