Galumpkis della Mare

Galumpkis are a Polish dish: cabbage leaves stuffed with ground meat and rice. That’s the one food tradition that’s left from my father’s side of the family. Not holiday fare, but we’d have them as an occasional dish, when the mood struck. I won’t say it’s the greatest food in the world, but it reminds me of my childhood, in a previous century and world.

Today, of course, everything is modern and Mediterranean and low cal and fresh and organic. We had some cabbage, fresh from our organic garden. We had some organically grown short grain brown rice (MJ saw the short grain on the label and read no further, it’s impossible to find short grain white rice, here in the NENW). We had some organically frozen fish. We thought, why not? What’s the worst that could happen? After all Rosa’s Pizza delivers on Sundays.

Turns out, it’s a simple, two-step process:

Step 1: pan fry some fish fillets, breaking them up in the pan and chopping them up afterwards so they come out like fishburger. Put enough of the brown rice to end up equal to the amount of fish into the pressure cooker and cook for however long your cooker says — it will probably be close to half the stovetop time for brown rice. Don’t use the Rice setting — that’s for white rice, and you’ll be underdone. Well, the rice will be underdone, and you’ll just be undone. Make a nice, thick, Italian tomato sauce, as you would for pizza, or pasta, or parmigiana. Braise half a dozen largish cabbage leaves in water added to the fish pan.

Step 2: mix the fish and rice until mixed. Add whatever herbs and spices sound good with fish and rice. Wrap up in the cabbage leaves and secure with toothpicks or nails or cotter pins. Lay them out in a roasting pan and cover with the Italianate sauce. Cook at 300F for 30min or so, until the Galumpkis Della Mare are heated through and the sauce gets a hard, dark glaze, like a fine Etruscan pottery.

Serve with an upscale, upcountry Chianti Colli Aretini, a presumptuous domestic Sangiovese, or a fresh Winnica Płochockich Rege.


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