A weird day: Cabbage with Pot-au-feu Filling

Happy women's right day to all you ladies out there... I feel weird about writing this to be honest, not that I don't like the idea, but wouldn't it be better if the other 364 days (or 365 this year) would be the same too? But let's not get too political...
It has been a weird day for me, because I have such a busy week my first thought was to enjoy this day off by not doing much, but the "kitchen calling" was too strong and I ended up cooking all afternoon. So I went to the supermarket and got called "Sir" in the cheese section (not the first time this happens...) and 5 minutes later I got a rose from the cashier because it's women's day... go figure... I also went to buy something I rarelly do: meat!

Well the main reason I did this, was because of a cabbage that we got in our weekly vegetables basket. My grandma used to do stuffed cabbage and I liked it a lot, this is most likely nothing like her recipe, but considering the time it takes to make it, it made me feel quite old fashionned.
Making the very emblematic "Pot-au-feu", was also a first for me, not that there is anything complicated about it, it's just not my comfort zone to cook big piece of meat. Plus it is a great "left-over" dish, I used all the meat and vegetables again for the filling, but I know have enough meat broth for quite a while.

So to sum up, this dish took me all afternoon to make, it takes a lot of different preparation (therefor a lot of dishes to wash, and I don't have a dishwasher), it requires some assembling and a bit of dexterity and it's not even "pretty" food once cook. So why bother? Because it's good! Because I know exactly what went in it, because I know it's been done with care and I can share it with the ones I love. That's also what cooking is about.

Cabbage with Pot-au-feu Filling

Serves 6

for the Pot-au-feu

500gr of Beef Brisket
1 Onion
2 Carrots
1 Leek
1/2 a Celery Root
4 Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
Salt, Pepper

200gr of Pork Belly
2 Slices of Bread
1 Tablespoon of Ground Coriander
1 Lemon Zested
50gr of Gruyère, grated
Salt, Pepper

In a big pan, place the beef covered with water on a medium heat and bring it to bubble for about 10 minutes. Some foam will surface, take it away with a laddle.
Peel the onion and prick the cloves in it, add it to the pan with the bay leaf, the thym, the salt and pepper, cover it and let it cook for 1 hour.

Peel and cut all the vegetables (carrot, leek, celery) to the same size, about 5 cm long. Add them to the pan and cook for an other hour. When the 2 hours are over, take the meat and the vegetable out and pass the bouillon thru a sieve into bottles.
Cut the meat into small cubes and set aside with the vegetables.

Place the 2 slices of bread into milk to soften them. Cut the pork belly in cubes and in a non-sticky frying pan, cook them with no fat, to a light brown color. Once cooked, place them on kitchen paper to absorb the excess of fat.

Here I've used the grinder accessory to my Kitchenaid with the big holes. Pass both meats, all the vegetables you've cooked with the brisket (including the onion) and the bread that has soaked in the milk.
Add the coriander, the lemon zest and the gruyère. Use your (clean) hands to combine everything very well, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to your taste. Set aside.

Take the big leaves off the cabbage, one by one and wash them. Bring a big pan of salted water to the boil, place the cabbage leaves carefully in it, you might need to do several batches depending on the size of your pan. Cook the leaves for about 5 minutes, and place them into cold water as soon as you take them out of the hot water.

Now starts the assembling, dry the leaves really well, cut the thickest part of the stem away, place a good tablespoon of filling in the middle of the leave and wrap it like a present. Using a kitchen string tigh it together. This should make about 12.

Heat up a bit of olive oil in a pan (a cast iron for instance), place the cabbage wraps in it to give them a bit of color and then add some meat broth and cook it for about 20 minutes. You can serve it like this, or with mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.

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