When I met Nancy I had just moved to Melbourne, she worked in my local cafe (The Barber Shop). I miss the coffee, bagels and Nancy now too!
Nancy liked to forage (something id never heard of) but learning about all these secret spots to pick-up free herbs and other eatable things was convenient, money-saving and meant that I escaped the supermarket as much as possible.
We often exchanged recipes and would drink together for hours which happily revolutionised into throwing dinner parties (one of which featured this traditional Romanian dish). Sarmale is soft and comforting, absolutely delicious and I am proud to feature this on my blog. Families have their own style of cooking sarmale, this particular recipe having been passed down through generations and in Nancy’s capable hands perfected further until we end up with this delight.
Here is Nancy’s recipe in her own words. If you make it don’t scrimp on the sour cream as it enriches the dish and after the lengthy cooking time (and a few bottles of good red wine) try not to forget the final flourish! These photos were taken at our last supper, the day before we left Melbourne…..empty home but full tummies and very happy memories.
- 3kg of pork mince
- 1 whole smoked hock
- 4 tablespoons of paprika
- 1 bunch of dill roughly chopped
- 4 brown onions diced
- 2 cups of wild rice
- bay leaves
- 1 large chorizo
- 6 thick slices of pancetta
- 2 bottles of passata
- whole sauerkraut leaves
- salt and pepper
In a huge stock pot with lid place hock on bottom, cover with both passata bottles then simmer with chopped chorizo, torn pancetta, salt, pepper and bay leaves.
In a bowl mix diced onions, wild rice, paprika, dill and pork mince.
Create heaped serving spoon sized portions of mixture and roll up like a burrito tucked into a pickle jar inside the sauerkraut leaves. (if the stems are too thick chop them off in little triangles and pop them into simmering pot).
Place cabbage rolls snugly in and around the hock and stack on top. pour up to 2 cups of water to raise the level of broth/sauce and cover with lid.
Leave on a mild simmer for most of the day, checking occasionally and nudging the rolls in order to allow sauce between them. Minimum cooking time is 3 hours but the longer the better. I cook mine up to 6-8.
Serve up with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.