Polpettone di Maile e Cavolo Savoia
1 SAVOY CABBAGE–small to medium
1 1/3 LB GROUND PORK
2 GARLIC CLOVES–finely chopped
½ CUP FRESHLY GRATED CHEESE
1 MEDIUM ONION–chopped
FRESHLY GROUNDBLACK PEPPER
1-2 TBS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
2 TBS VEGETABLE OIL
1 ½-1 ¾ CUPS BREADCRUMBS
2 TBS BUTTER
½ CUP DRY WHITE WINEBROTH–if necessary
Many years ago, we had the opportunity to meet Marcella Hazan. Our bakery was selling bread to a restaurant here in Atlanta that she was involved with. She and her son Guliano paid us the compliment of visiting our Italian Market here in Dunwoody and she gave me an autographed copy of one of her books. It has been a treasure.
She was a gracious lady, and I will always remember her visit. We did have another opportunity to visit Marcella Hazan and her husband Victor years later in Florida after her retirement and she honored me with another autographed book.
I treasure all of her books and have enjoyed countless recipes. Here is one that I make frequently.
Remove the thick outer leaves from the cabbage and cut away the core. Rinse the cabbage under cold water and shake well.
Bring a soup pot of water to a boil, add a few teaspoons of salt and carefully slide the cabbage in.
Cook for about one-half hour or until a knife will pierce easily into the thickest part.
Remove the cabbage from the pot, drain and let cool. When it is cool enough to handle, wrap in a dish towel and squeeze out as much of the water that you can.
Place cabbage on your cutting board and chop very fine. Squeeze again because if there is too much liquid the loaf will fall apart.
Using a bowl that is large enough to hold all the ingredients, add the chopped cabbage and then the ground pork, chopped onion, garlic, olive oil, the eggs, slightly beaten, salt, several grindings of black pepper, ½ cup breadcrumbs (or a little less, just enough to bind)and the freshly grated cheese. Parmesan will be a bit more flavorful, but you can use Romano, if you prefer, as we do.
Just using your hands, mix all the ingredients together trying not to mash it.
Then as best you can, part the mixture into two parts and form into two rounded loafs, like you would be making a meatloaf.
As you are rolling squeeze lightly to remove any air pockets inside. Then carefully roll each loaf in the breadcrumbs as you press gently to help the breadcrumbs adhere.
In a Dutch oven or a heavy saucepan (make sure you will have enough room to turn the loaves) with a good lid add the vegetable oil with the butter and cook on medium-high heat.
When all the foam has subsided, carefully slide the loaves in, one at a time, and brown them well turning over gently until all sides are nice and crisp. You need a crust to form to hold the loaf together while it is cooking.
When both are browned nicely all over, add the white wine. Use a wine you will enjoy drinking. An inferior wine will produce an inferior result.
When the aroma from the wine has left, turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for about 60 minutes or slightly more.
You should carefully move the loaves around several times to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
If you find that the pot is getting dry add a few tablespoons of broth or water.
When fully cooked, remove from the pot, let cool for a few minutes, slice and serve on a platter with the pan juices spooned over all.
NOTE: This is a family favorite, and we have it often during the cooler or colder months. You can prepare a day in advance. Our family enjoys it accompanied by buttered rice and I prepare a green vegetable, usually broccoli that has been oven baked. And, of course, in our house there will always be crusty Italian bread.