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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:05 pm 
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busterbill wrote:
The only one I've never had offered to me was the one wrapped in cabbage.

I'm under the impression that you might think I meant a sausage wrapped in cabbage, so just to be clear, it's not anything like that. It's in the same family as stuffed grape leaves, with a mix of seasoned ground meat (normally beef in the US) and rice - both precooked - as the most basic go-to filling, inside a wrapper of parboiled cabbage leaf. Of all so-called pigs-in-a-blanket, the cabbage roll is the outlier; the only thing it has in common with the rest is 1) it is wrapped, 2) there is some meat involved (although I'm sure there are vegan versions nowadays), and 3) you eat it. They're a classic of Central and Eastern European cuisines.

Here's a pic:

Image

It's typical to braise them in tomato juice, which reduces and becomes richer and tastier as you bake them. It's usually a plain dish, ingredients-wise, but surprisingly delicious despite that. Recipes abound, and they're all pretty much alike, although I remove the ribs from the cabbage leaves after they're parboiled; some don't take that step, but the leaves roll up more easily and hold their form way better if you do, and the end product is softer. The only drawback to removing the ribs, obviously, is that wrapping well can be compromised, but I have extra parboiled leaves on hand for patches when needed. Next time I might instead try shaving the rib down prior to parboiling to see how that works; it would keep the leaf whole, which would be a plus, but not a deal-breaker for me. While some might forgo the rice and/or tomato juice, I consider them essential: the tomato juice for its splendid, pervading savory-sweetness as it reduces, and the rice for lending a more palatable texture and lightness than ground meat alone would have.

"Pigs-in-a-blanket" (never mind the awkward grammar) is what I knew them as when I was a kid, so I presume there must be other people who still call them that as well. I don't call them that any more, though, mainly because the sausage iterations are more typically what people think of.

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 6:09 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:

Here's a pic:

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I want this!


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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:17 pm 
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busterbill wrote:
I want this!

Then you simply must try it, if only to experience how such dull, blah ingredients can come together to make something so unaccountably good that everyone, at least that I know, likes it. A lot. It's one of those old-fashioned heritage dishes that are still around for a good reason. Last time I brought a roasting pan's worth of 'em to a family gathering people actually squealed, because in this age of convenience you don't see them much any more other than at special occasions; they are a bit time-consuming to prepare, although it's mere assembly rather than creativeness and you can't really screw them up. Humble as they are, they're so loved that they make any occasion special just on their own; they're basically soul food for white folks whose roots come from just about anywhere east of France. So anyway, even though there was more sophisticated fare to be had that day, the cabbage rolls got the lion's share of attention, and in the end none were left over. And I'd layered them 2 deep with a few extras on top of that; I'm guessing there would have been around eighty of them or so, so that might tell you something. And I can't take credit for them other than putting them together; the basic recipe takes care of itself. If you're cooking for two, I would make at least eight or ten. Trust me on this. In any event you'll be glad for the leftovers, should there be any.

As I said, there are lots of recipes out there. I would recommend the simplest, because therein lies its virtue: it doesn't really need anything extra - you might even make a lesser product in trying to tart it up. Honestly, this is one of the extremely few dishes I don't try to "elevate", because it's so spot-on and perfect in its most basic form; it's a consummate exemplar of the Western culinary ideal of the triumph of simplicity. It's so basic that if you wanted, you could even just go with what I'm telling you here: precooked seasoned hamburger mixed with precooked rice (relative proportions are up to you, but I go for a slightly greater ratio of meat), roll that up burrito-fashion in parboiled cabbage leaves (de-ribbed is optional, but I also recommend that), lay the little beauties snugly together in a casserole or the like (multiple layers are fine and probably inevitable anyway), pour enough tomato juice over them to cover the bottom layer halfway up or so, and bake covered at 350° F until the tomato juice has reduced and tightened enough to transform into a clingy sauce - maybe an hour, hour-and-a-half. I never remember; it's done when it's done. The sauce will tell you. A little oven time uncovered for some extra Maillard reaction, if you like. It's so simple that even a fool (myself, for example) could do it. All it takes is a little patience and focus during preparation.

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:47 pm 
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Halupki/Golumpki/Golabki dpending along what side of the Polish/Chetnik/Slovak/Slovenian cultural axis you are.

Bob

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:59 pm 
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an seanduine wrote:
Halupki/Golumpki/Golabki dpending along what side of the Polish/Chetnik/Slovak/Slovenian cultural axis you are.

Germans, too (Kohlrouladen), Lithuanians (Balandeliai), Bosnians (Sarma), Hungarians (Töltött káposzta), and I found out that in Greece they're supposedly more likely to use cabbage at home than grape leaves, which are more of a dining-out thing, apparently. They're all over in some form or another. The German versions sometimes use gravy, but the tomato juice route seems pretty widespread. It's what I know best, anyway.

Chetnik, though - that's not an ethnicity.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlarg ... in-bosnia/

But perhaps it's time to leave that political sidetrack alone, now.

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 12:29 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
busterbill wrote:
I want this!

As I said, there are lots of recipes out there. I would recommend the simplest, because therein lies its virtue: it doesn't really need anything extra - you might even make a lesser product in trying to tart it up. Honestly, this is one of the extremely few dishes I don't try to "elevate", because it's so spot-on and perfect in its most basic form; it's a consummate exemplar of the Western culinary ideal of the triumph of simplicity. It's so basic that if you wanted, you could even just go with what I'm telling you here: precooked seasoned hamburger mixed with precooked rice (relative proportions are up to you, but I go for a slightly greater ratio of meat), roll that up burrito-fashion in parboiled cabbage leaves (de-ribbed is optional, but I also recommend that), lay the little beauties snugly together in a casserole or the like (multiple layers are fine and probably inevitable anyway), pour enough tomato juice over them to cover the bottom layer halfway up or so, and bake covered at 350° F until the tomato juice has reduced and tightened enough to transform into a clingy sauce - maybe an hour, hour-and-a-half. I never remember; it's done when it's done. The sauce will tell you. A little oven time uncovered for some extra Maillard reaction, if you like. It's so simple that even a fool (myself, for example) could do it. All it takes is a little patience and focus during preparation.

Yes Yes Yes! And a variation for the meat is half ground pork
to half ground beef. The very large outer leaves can be used
to line the bottom of the dish (oven) or pot (stove) that they cook in.
De-ribbed leaves are absolutely necessary for a tight roll. One trick
for pliable leaves is to freeze the head of cabbage prior to making them.
When the head is thawed the leaves fall away ready to stuff which is much
easier than the parboiling process. Another variation comes from a
Romanian recipe that uses heads that are soured which is of course
the old preservation method.
Some recipes call for sauerkraut being rolled with the filling
or in layers in between the rolls themselves. Before tomatoes
were used a sweet sour mix of sugar, vinegar and water
was used for the cooking liquid. (more sour than sweet of course.)
Check the many videos for the cabbage prep and rolling unless
Babcie is around to show you the ropes.

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 11:25 am 
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busterbill wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:

Here's a pic:

Image



I want this!

Yes, I had these growing up and still enjoy the pigs in a blanket regularly to this day. My mother also used to prepare stuffed bell peppers with the same meat and rice combo while I always preferred the cabbage leaf version.


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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:28 pm 
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ytliek wrote:
Yes, I had these growing up and still enjoy the pigs in a blanket regularly to this day.

So that's what you call them, too, huh?

ytliek wrote:
My mother also used to prepare stuffed bell peppers with the same meat and rice combo while I always preferred the cabbage leaf version.

Stuffed bell peppers weren't unknown, but they also weren't usual. Like you, I far preferred the cabbage rolls. To this day I've never liked green bell peppers all that much; I'd probably have had a different attitude if Mom had used red ones, but back in the day green was all you could get at the store.

oleorezinator wrote:
De-ribbed leaves are absolutely necessary for a tight roll. One trick
for pliable leaves is to freeze the head of cabbage prior to making them.
When the head is thawed the leaves fall away ready to stuff which is much
easier than the parboiling process.

That's a nice trick.

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 2:16 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
busterbill wrote:
I want this!

Then you simply must try it, if only to experience how such dull, blah ingredients can come together to make something so unaccountably good that everyone, at least that I know, likes it.


Since you've brought that up twice, I thought I'd respond. Being complicated (or having lots of ingredients) and being good are, in my mind, not really related. (Those pigs in a blanket are only missing potato, then they'd just about be corned beef and cabbage. ;) )

One of my absolute favorite dishes is kalua pig. It's Hawaiian, basically just a piece of pork rubbed with salt, wrapped up (traditional is banana leaves) and slow-cooked in a fire, then shredded. I made it for the first time last night, in an oven, and had started it before I realized I was out of liquid smoke. So all it was was a hunk of pork rubbed with salt, wrapped in aluminum foil, and baked for 4 hours. It was absolutely divine, although it would have benefitted from some smoke flavor.

The best spaghetti sauce as far as I'm concerned is tomatoes peeled and cooked down. If it's during the summer, I'll add some salt (I sweat a lot).

As you probably know (although I may be flattering myself with that assumption), I don't mind spending a few hours and using a couple of dozen ingredients to make a good meal, but I also do recognize beauty in simplicity.

Stay healthy and safe!

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:05 pm 
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chas wrote:
Being complicated (or having lots of ingredients) and being good are, in my mind, not really related.

On a tangential note, a South Indian friend of mine can't comprehend how Western cuisine can be any good without a dizzying array of spices in every dish (needless to say, he hasn't really tried Western dishes much), and I've had many a conversation with him about how it's not that we brutishly eat bland foods without knowing better; it's that our values are different when it comes to what we consider to be good flavor. A lot of the time we tend to favor herbs over spices, but either way a good cook knows to do it sparingly, because for us simplicity, and therefore subtlety, is a virtue; salt and pepper are often enough, or instead of herbs and spices, we use other foods like green beans, carrots, onions, bacon, etc, to round out the flavors in a dish by way of interplay as in stews, putting ham in split pea soup, or fruit with pork. We always talk about respecting the ingredients, so seasoning should augment a dish, but only enough to give a special, sometimes barely detectable added dimension to its base flavor. Indian cooking is one thing (if you'll excuse the gross oversimplification), but in classic Western cooking we lament it when someone goes crazy with the spice rack; anyone can do that. It takes experience and no small amount of skill to hold back and do only just enough for that perfect touch. I don't know how many times I've repeated this general explanation to him. But one day he finally had an epiphany: "So you actually want to taste your food?!" he exclaimed. "That's what I've been trying to tell you all along," I sighed. He may still never come to like the simpler forms of Western cooking, but at least now he understands that there really are genuine and frequently refined aesthetic standards and goals behind it.

One of my favoritest foods is scallops. One time at a restaurant they unexpectedly came blackened (the same sort of treatment as with so-called blackened catfish), and I nearly wept. By overdoing it they had been ruined, and for what?

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:32 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
ytliek wrote:
Yes, I had these growing up and still enjoy the pigs in a blanket regularly to this day.

So that's what you call them, too, huh?

ytliek wrote:
My mother also used to prepare stuffed bell peppers with the same meat and rice combo while I always preferred the cabbage leaf version.

Stuffed bell peppers weren't unknown, but they also weren't usual. Like you, I far preferred the cabbage rolls. To this day I've never liked green bell peppers all that much; I'd probably have had a different attitude if Mom had used red ones, but back in the day green was all you could get at the store.

Mom was Lithuanian and came from a family of poor farmers. There were specific foods called pigs in a blanket and my brother and I would loosely refer to other foods as pigs in a blanket to include hotdogs or even bacon in some type of bread, roll, pancake, but, a corndog was always a corndog. When we were both youngsters 1950s whenever we were having any kind of pork we'd laugh saying we were eating pig. Pork sounds so polite while pig takes on a whole different connotation. The Looney Tunes cartoons provided plenty of ammo to joke about our family feedings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTMGln ... e=emb_logo

We had a primarily boiled food diet back in the day. Mom was a much better baker than cook if that means anything.


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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:14 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
an seanduine wrote:
Halupki/Golumpki/Golabki dpending along what side of the Polish/Chetnik/Slovak/Slovenian cultural axis you are.

Germans, too (Kohlrouladen), Lithuanians (Balandeliai), Bosnians (Sarma), Hungarians (Töltött káposzta), and I found out that in Greece they're supposedly more likely to use cabbage at home than grape leaves, which are more of a dining-out thing, apparently. They're all over in some form or another. The German versions sometimes use gravy, but the tomato juice route seems pretty widespread. It's what I know best, anyway.

Chetnik, though - that's not an ethnicity.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlarg ... in-bosnia/

But perhaps it's time to leave that political sidetrack alone, now.

Speaking of the Greek thing, a Lebanese friend of mine
told me that if they ran out of grape leaves, cabbage was substituted.
Another variation from Poland for the cooking liquid was fat back
or salt pork cut into very small pieces, fried until crispy and then
made into a dark roux with flour and water. That doesn’t sound too
appetizing being that when cabbage is cooked for a very long time starts
to stink. The acid of tomatoes, vinegar or fermentation eliminates that.
Kasha/buckwheat groats, millet, oatmeal and pearl barley were also used instead of rice.

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Last edited by oleorezinator on Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:17 pm 
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I would definitely try the kasha alternative! Never thought of that.

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2020 12:48 am 
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All of these things you guys are talking about sound delicious. But wow are they different from the simple chipolata sausage wrapped in bacon and baked! Actually, though, you might have inspired us. Deb has been making sauerkraut for some years now. After this thread, she's thinking of making a batch in whole leaves so that we can do the thing with wrapping sausage meat in a whole, soured cabbage leaf. Sounds absolutely delicious.

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 Post subject: Re: Pigs in blankets
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2020 5:35 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:

One of my favoritest foods is scallops. One time at a restaurant they unexpectedly came blackened (the same sort of treatment as with so-called blackened catfish), and I nearly wept. By overdoing it they had been ruined, and for what?


Other than sauteeing or broiling, there are only two things I do with scallops: scampi and a szechuan style stir fry, with lemon instead of vinegar in the sauce. I'm with you, blackening is just-plain wrong.

benhall.1 wrote:
All of these things you guys are talking about sound delicious. But wow are they different from the simple chipolata sausage wrapped in bacon and baked! Actually, though, you might have inspired us. Deb has been making sauerkraut for some years now. After this thread, she's thinking of making a batch in whole leaves so that we can do the thing with wrapping sausage meat in a whole, soured cabbage leaf. Sounds absolutely delicious.


How would one go about making sauerkraut with whole leaves? I mead several batches (inspired by you, btw), but can't make it any more because my arthritic hands can't handle the mashing necessary to get it to give up enough liquid to cover it, and if I put too much water in, the reaction doesn't go properly.

My mother used to make something she called franks and blanks. Slit hot dogs about 3/4 the way through, put a stick of really sharp cheddar in the slit, and wrap with a strip of bacon. Cook in the oven till the bacon is rendered and the cheese is melted.

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