Verza Ripiena con Animelle

(Savoy Cabbage Stuffed with Sweetbreads)

This recipe looks a bit complicated, but is actually easy.  Some may ask they would make this dish when they would never eat sweetbreads. That is what my wife  originally said until she tasted these. Two immediately disappeared from her plate, with a "Those are good!" comment.  If you absolutely, positively, under no circumstances will eat Sweetbreads, leave them out and stuff the cabbage!


1 Lb. Sweetbreads (Veal or Beef)
1 Lg. Savoy cabbage
1/2 Cup Rice - Arborio
1/4 Cup Onion - red
2 Cloves  Garlic - thinly sliced
1 Cup Broth - Chicken or vegetable.
2 Med. Eggs - lightly beaten
4 Tbl Parsley - Italian and chopped
1/2 Cup Pignoli - pine nuts
3 Tbl Bread Crumbs - Fine - only used if needed - see below
1/2 Cup Olive Oil - extra virgin
1/2 Cup Olive Oil - extra virgin
1/8 Tbl. Thyme leaves - Fresh
1/4 Tbl Sage leaves - fresh and finely chopped

Preparing the Sweetbreads

Soak the sweetbreads in acidulated  cold water [made by adding 3-4 tsp vinegar to a gallon of water] for 1-2 hours before making this dish.  When the sweetbreads are ready, heat water to boiling in a pan large enough to hold all the sweetbreads.  Once the water is boiling, add the sweetbreads and allow then to cook in gently boiling water for 15 minutes.  At the end of this time, remove them from the hot water, using tongs or a skimmer.  Put the sweetbreads in cold water, and allow to cool until they can be handled. 

Remove the thin coverings (skin) from the sweetbreads. While doing this some of the sweetbreads may break loose from the larger mass. That is OK.  Once you have removed as much of the skin, cut the sweetbreads into small pieces, about 1/2 inch each.

Preparing the Savoy Cabbage

Bring a pot of salted water to an easy boil. The pot should be large enough to hold the water and the entire head of Savoy cabbage.  Turn the heat to medium high, and gently boil the cabbage for 10-12 minutes.  Remove the head from the water, and allow to drain in the sink or in a colander. Remove the outer leaves that are soft and a bit overcooked, and save them. Remove the rest of the leaves until there are about 12-15 of them. Lay them flat on paper towels. Set aside.  There should be 2-4 leaves that were removed from the outermost layers of cabbage. Chop them into small pieces. Chop about 1/2 cup of the remaining inner leaves - less well cooked - and set them aside.

Preparing the Stuffing

Fry the onion in olive oil for about 2 - minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the onions are soft, and the garlic has taken on a bit of color. Add the rice to the pan, and sauté for about a minute over low heat, stirring gently. When the rice is well coated with oil and mixed with the onions and garlic, add the cup of chicken broth. (We are not making risotto here, but a simple riso [rice].)  Allow the rice to cook for about 10 -12 minutes until the rice is soft, but still has a bit of a bite when tasted. 

When cool, remove the rice mixture from the pan and put in n a mixing bowl large enough to hold the remaining ingredients. Add half the broth, eggs parsley chopped cabbage leaves and pine nuts. Mix well.  Adjust the consistency with more broth if the mixture is too dry. If too loose, add a few tablespoons of finely ground bread crumbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Stuffing the Cabbage

Lay each leaf on a cutting board.  Place a heaping tablespoon of the stuffing mixture in the center of each leaf.  Roll the leaf away from you until the stuffing is covered, then fold each side over so that they essentially meet in the middle of the now partially rolled cabbage. Continue rolling forward until the entire leaf encases the mixture.  Place each rolled leaf into an oiled baking pan. Continue this until all the leaves are stuffed.  Prepare a mixture of the thyme and sage and olive oil. Sprinkle this over the rolled cabbage.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Wine Idea: We had a 2006 Pinot Noir when we had this dish. A nice aged Merlot would have done as well as would a Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Last updated on:10/24/10 06:46:12 PM