Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lazy Stuffed Cabbage made with Thanksgiving Leftovers, Brussels Sprouts & Turkey


Last year Elena Mahohnko and her mother Ewa Michalik co-authored a compendium of Russian and Polish cooking that is a treasure chest of recipes that manages to be both familiar, exotic and very much in reach of the everyday cook. My post-Thanksgiving casserole with Brussels sprouts gets inspiration from a classic that the mother-daughter team call Lazy Golubsky. You may know it as stuffed cabbage. 

The Food and Cooking of Russia & Poland describes how to make stuffed cabbage the Polish way, in a sweet-sour tomato sauce and the Russian way, sauced with beef broth that's been thickened with smetana (similar to sour cream or creme fraiche).  A note at the bottom of this recipe refers to  Lazy Golubsy (Lazy Stuffed Cabbage), a deconstructed and much faster way to make the dish. 

In our recipe, leftover Brussels sprouts create the top layer over cooked turkey mixed with creamy mascarpone cheese and chicken broth.  A layer of buttery rice forms the base.  The essence of Russian stuffed cabbage without much effort and without boiling and rolling cabbage leaves.

The simplicity of the dish, adding mascarpone cheese and rice to leftover turkey and vegetables makes for a fresh redux of typical Thanksgiving fare.  You can also add leftover creamed onions to your turkey mixture to make this very Lazy Golubsy.

Of course you can make this from scratch with ground turkey as we did if you do not want to wait until Thanksgiving for leftovers.  Brussels sprouts are in season at farmers markets now and want you to take them home.  Cream cheese can stand in for the mascarpone.

Lazy Stuffed Cabbage with Brussels Sprouts & Turkey
Serves 4

Ingredients
14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
8 ounces water
2 tablespoon butter, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked rice
1 pound cooked, ground turkey (or 2-3 cups finely chopped leftover cooked turkey
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
2-3 cups leftover, cooked Brussels sprouts
salt & pepper

Method
  1. Cook the rice.  Measure 8 ounces of chicken broth and combine with water in a pot. Bring to a boil and add rice, one tablespoon butter and salt.  Lower heat to simmer and cook until rice is tender, about 25 minutes for regular rice, 15-20 minutes for basmati rice.  
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Butter or lightly oil a 3 quart, shallow casserole dish. 
  3. While rice cooks, prepare turkey mixture.  In a medium bowl, combine the cooked turkey with mascarpone.  If you are adding creamed onions, stir in at this point. Add chicken broth as needed to create a very moist mixture.  For ground turkey, you may need most of the remaining chicken broth. If using chopped cooked turkey, you will need a bit less.  Taste and adjust seasoning by adding salt or pepper.
  4. If they are whole, slice brussels sprouts in half.  
  5. When rice has cooked,  pour the hot rice into the buttered casserole and pat down with the back of a spoon to form the bottom layer. 
  6. Add the turkey-cheese mixture as a the middle layer. 
  7. Top with Brussels sprouts  arranged so that the cut side is facing up.  Dot with remaining tablespoon of butter.  
  8. Bake, uncovered, at 350˚F for 30-45 minutes, until casserole is heated through, to 165˚F.*
  9. Optional: run casserole under broiler to brown and crisp the the top layer.  You may be tempted to add some mild grated cheese at this stage.  Make yourself happy. 
*It is always important to heat foods like turkey and any leftovers to a safe and hot temperature, 165˚K.  Use a thermometer to check that the casserole has reached 165˚F before removing from oven.  Be sure to test the middle of the casserole, without hitting the sides of bottom with the thermometer.