Inspired by a classic northern Italian pasta dish made with buckwheat noodles, cabbage, pork sausage and cheese, this is true cold-weather comfort food. I've skipped the pasta here and focused on the flavours of the sauce, perfect with a big scoop of wet polenta, mash or even buttered risoni. The breadcrumbs and parmesan give the polpette a beautifully soft texture, which is great with the slightly decadent cheese, crunchy bread and braised cabbage.
extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
400g fine pork mince
500g Italian-style veal and pork sausages, skins removed and meat crumbled
1 tbsp Greek-style dried oregano
100g fresh breadcrumbs
100g parmesan, finely grated
1/2 savoy cabbage, cut into wedges and cored, leaves separated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
300-500ml quality chicken stock
200g taleggio cheese, cut into thick squares
100g truffled pecorino (optional), sliced
2 slices bread, torn
1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.
2. Add a splash of oil to a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and chopped garlic, season lightly and cook for about five minutes until softened and lightly golden. Tip into a bowl and set aside to cool a little.
3. Add the mince, sausage meat, eggs, oregano and a good grind of black pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and cooked onion and process until thoroughly combined.
4. Roll the mix into balls of about 90 grams each.
5. Place a large, heavy-based frying pan or pot over medium heat and add about 30 millilitres of oil. Working in batches, brown the polpette on all sides. Repeat until all the polpette are sealed.
6. Blanch the cabbage in boiling salted water for two minutes, refresh under cold water and drain thoroughly.
7. Add the butter and grated garlic to a large frying pan and cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the cabbage to the pan and toss through for three minutes. Take off the heat.
8. Arrange the cabbage and polpette in a baking dish and pour over enough stock to come halfway up the contents of the dish. Cover with baking paper and foil and bake for 30 minutes.
9. Uncover the dish and carefully pour the juices into a medium saucepan. Reduce the liquid by half and pour back over the dish. Push the taleggio pieces into the mix, lay the pecorino slices on top and scatter over the bread pieces. Return to the oven with the grill on and cook until bubbling and golden.
1. You could use halved brussels sprouts instead of cabbage leaves.
2. Try using chicken mince or beef mince instead of pork.
3. Add white wine and crushed tomatoes instead of the stock.