Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sausages in a Savoy Cabbage Blanket


As the temperatures cool and our namesake Savoy cabbage begins to be found in the markets, I find that I enjoy making this simple hearty dish frequently. Piedmont Italy is what used to be the kingdom of or House of Savoy. The Haute Savoie or upper Savoie is just over the alps behind us in France and as I always like to say, the borders in Europe have been very fluid over they years, changing with the next conqueror. I'm not sure how exactly this cabbage came to get it's name, but I feel pretty confident that because it flourishes here, that is one of the reasons why it is called as such. I read that cabbage
Back to the dish of the day, Salsicia in Camicia, which literally translates as "sausage in a shirt" and rhymes in Italian, but I couldn't resist calling it Sausage in a Savoy Cabbage Blanket for the play on the pigs in a blanket reference. Anyway, our cousin Paolo came over for lunch the other day and I made Salsicia in Camicia. He declared my lunch to be better than any of the trattorias that he frequents. Since  he's a single guy and does eat out a lot, I took it for high praise. Mille grazie Paolo. He also liked my savoy cabbage simple slaw as an antipasto, never mind that it is really an American style slaw that I grew up on and still love to this day. (Don't call it cole slaw! My mom made more of a sweet and vinegary style that mine is a take off on and although I might put a couple of tablespoons of mayo in, but it definitely is not cole slaw. That kind of slaw makes me have an involuntary reflex that isn't all that pleasant).  
Mountain Savoy cabbage from our garden They normally are quite a bit larger
Yes, back to savoy cabbage, which here it is called cavolo verza.  I really love this cabbage as it is milder and somewhat lighter in body. I love red and regular cabbage or what is called cappuccio cavolo as well, but find my heart quickens when we're having Savoy cabbage. It's particularly loved here in the mountains as it is a cold loving plant and we generally have them in the garden all winter long snugged under the blanket of snow. My in laws keep them to have the outer greens for the chickens to peck at in the winter and for the rest of us to have a good peck at as well. Apparently everyone loves a bit of greens now and then. I think you'll find this a satisfying dish to add to your rotation of cabbage dishes as we move into full cabbage season. You can find another local Savoy cabbage soup here that I have shared before. 

Salsicia in Camicia with smashed potatoes
Salsicia in Camicia
Sausages or Cotechino in a Savoy Cabbage Blanket 
Serves 6

6 sausages, cotechino or spicy, garlicky Italian type or whatever ones you like
6 large whole Savoy cabbage leaves, you can use regular ones, but Savoy are our native favorite
1 medium onion diced
2 carrots, diced
1-2 ribs celery, diced

1-2 T fennel seeds, less if you prefer a more subtle fennel flavor
2 bay leaves
1 T thyme, fresh or a few sprigs, less if using dry thyme as it is more concentrated

2 garlic cloves
white wine, hefty splash
8 tomatoes, San Marzano or Roma style diced or a can of diced tomatoes

olive oil
Salt and  Pepper to taste, a little red pepper if you like

Lay your cabbage leaves flat and make a 1/2 inch/ 2 cm slice up the middle of the cabbage main rib from the base on each the leaves. This will help when you roll them up.
Lay one sausage on each of the leaves at the base.
Starting from the thick end of the cabbage leaf, roll the sausage up, folding the two outer edges of the leaf in towards the middle as you roll it up to the wide end of the cabbage. This is just like rolling egg rolls or burritos.
Secure the loose end with a toothpick or short wooden skewer and set aside.
Place a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a deep sided saute pan.
Add your diced onion, carrots, and celery and saute till the vegetables start to soften.
Add the thyme, bay leaves and fennel seeds.
Cook a few minutes more then add garlic.
Add the the sausage rolls and sauté till the cabbage has softened, turn and continue until the rolls begin to pick up some color on all sides.
Add a good glug of white wine, picking up any bits that might be sticking to the bottom of the pan and continue to cook until the wine has almost disappeared.
Add the diced tomatoes and a half cup of water or stock if  you have it to make a soupy mix.
Cover and let simmer about 20 minutes, or until you think your sausages are done, as the timing will vary due to the size of your sausages.
Taste and adjust your seasonings.

We serve them with mashed potatoes. I like to simply mash the potatoes with a hand smasher, some roasted garlic if I have it, olive oil and chicken stock, which I usually don't have, so I merely use the potato water to thin out a bit. Simple, but the sauce is so flavorful, you probably won't miss the extra richness of  the butter and cream/milk, but feel free to make then however you like.
You could also serve with a simple side of rice or cooked noodles as well. Very tasty and versatile.

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