I hadn't made these in years, and they'd been on my radar for a while.
My Nanna was European and these were one of her specialities. Of course she minced her own meat, cultivated her own fresh herbs, and grew her own cabbage, but I'm a lazy 21st century girl, so I just buy mine...lol. Although I do use my own fresh herbs, so perhaps that's my the extent of my heirloom skills in that department.
One mouthful of these little morsels and I am instantly transported back to Nannas humble table, one end covered in Grandpas newspapers and roll-your-own cigarette makings, including Champion Ruby tobacco in it's yellow and red package, and his ashtray that spun to hide the ash deep in it's base, ostensibly to eliminate odour. It didn't work, and their living area always smelled of fresh tobacco, an oddly comforting scent. I used to adore helping him pack his pipe after dinner and would sneak little bits of stray tobacco into my pockets to sniff later....not very politically correct, but it was the 60s! I never told him that it was me that would use up all his Tally-Ho papers either. I didn't do anything useful with them. I just liked slipping them out of their little dispenser, like miniature tissues from a tiny tissue box. I suspect he knew without me saying so, though. Funnily enough, despite my close relationship with pipes, Tally-Ho papers and Champion Ruby tobacco, I've never, ever smoked. Not in my whole life. Not even a puff. Go figure.
I find the Chinese Cabbage (Wombok) leaves easier to handle than Nannas traditional Drumhead or Sugarloaf cabbage, especially once they're microwaved, and the turkey mince is a lovely lean alternative to the usual beef or pork.
These take less than 2 hours even in the slow cooker, and you can also bake them, or cook them in a pot with a tight fitting lid on the stovetop.
So here's what you need for four servings:
18 Wombok leaves, stalks trimmed from the bottom by about a third
500gms turkey mince
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried garlic granules
Large handful of freshly chopped continental parsley
Large handful of freshly chopped garlic chives
1 tin of chopped and peeled tomatoes mixed with a chicken stock cube, 1/2 teaspoon dried or minced garlic and some salt and pepper. You can also use a jar of salsa if you prefer.
Put the trimmed Wombok leaves into a large bowl and add 1/2 cup water. Cover with cling wrap and microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds. Carefully remove the cling wrap (it will be steamy and hot so beware), and using tongs, lay the steamed leaves on the bench or table to cool.
While they cool, mix the turkey mince and all other ingredients except the tomato mixture. Combine well.
Put your slow cooker on High.
Take a wombok leaf, and face it with the soft edge closest to you and the stalk facing away. Take a teaspoonful of the turkey mixture, and place it near the soft leafy end of the wombok. Roll the end of the leaf over the meatball encasing it as you go, and folding in the edges, finishing with the stalk underneath. Place it in the slow cooker, stalk side under to keep it wrapped. Continue with the remaining leaves, snuggling the rolls up against each other. Stack them towards the end if you need to,
If any meat remains and you've run out of wombok, just roll it into little meatballs and add them too.
Pour the tomato mixture or salsa over the rolls, and put the lid on.
Cook on High for up to two hours, or until done. They really don't take too long at all.
We serve ours with one minute Polenta made with hot milk infused with a chicken stock cube and some garlic, and baby spinach.
Very yummy :)