Traditional French Stuffed Cabbage Recipe From Limousin France

Updated on January 31, 2020
Les Trois Chenes profile image

I love to share my easiest, most economical, most delicious and most foolproof recipes so that others may enjoy them.

This article will show you how to make traditional French stuffed cabbage.
This article will show you how to make traditional French stuffed cabbage.

This is another one of my Cinderella dishes! It's the perfect frugal recipe for transforming all your leftover food into something gorgeous. Stuffed cabbage is one of many such recipes from Limousin, the rural heart of France.

This is a farming area, and it was once very poor. Stale bread, chestnuts, and cabbage often feature as cooking ingredients in this area's cuisine, and this cabbage recipe features all three! I've really enjoyed eating them in the local restaurants and Videix annual fete, and then making them for myself as well. I just adore the idea of changing base materials into gold, and that is exactly what this cabbage recipe does.

So far, I haven't been brave enough to offer it to guests at my establishment—so many people just won't even try cabbage! (Can you believe it?)

Notes on the Ingredients

If you look up recipes for traditional French stuffed cabbage, you'll find they vary quite a bit, and my main recipe comes from an older local resident of Videix—the one who makes the stuffed cabbages for one of our annual communal meals (read on for more about these). There are three elements that are common to all the recipes: cabbage, moistened stale bread, and sausage meat. I reckon that you could produce this dish using only these ingredients.

In addition to these, my mentor added milk, eggs, onions, herbs, and seasoning. Other recipes suggest chestnuts (a local staple, as we are surrounded by woodlands composed of sweet chestnut and oak trees), carrots, and tomatoes.

It is obvious where this has come from. Stuffed cabbage would have been a way to use up your leftovers, so I suggest that you do the same. If you have a few assorted vegetables, chuck them in. Also I haven't included qualities. I bought a cabbage and a handful of meat and just added to that. Mine turned out to be a bit mean for two packages, so I've increased the ingredients a bit for you. But you'll likely have leftover cabbage, so just dice it and add it to the mix—or cook it separately and serve as a vegetable.

Traditional recipes ask for lard and include quite a lot of fat. But I more or less missed this, thinking the sausage meat would have enough fat in it for today's lifestyles. You can add a knob of butter if you like. Also, some suggest you add brandy and the like. I do think that, as this was a 'peasant' dish, I wouldn't pollute it with posh ingredients. Why should you when it is so delicious anyway?

If you have filling left over, make it into a beef burger shape, flour it, and fry it as a rissole. Waste not, want not!

Here's all the main ingredients you'll need.
Here's all the main ingredients you'll need.

Ingredients

  • 1 large Savoy-type cabbage
  • 1 handful of sausage meat (I asked for 'une poignée' (a handful) of sausage meat. Fortunately, it was the butcher's hand and not mine. I think that was about right.)
  • 1/3 of a baguette of bread (Perhaps about the same quantity of bread as meat. Dice this and soak in milk. You could also use stock instead to moisten the bread.0
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1–2 onions, finely diced
  • 2–3 garlic cloves
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Knob of butter
  • Herbs (I used dried thyme, but I wish that I'd thought of getting some sage and parsley from the garden!)

Note: You'll also need cooking twine, the string they use to truss chickens.

Ingredients

  1. Take the leaves off the cabbage, wash, and boil in salted water for 5–10 minutes until softened. Drain and leave to cool.
  2. Mix up all the ingredients. I found the only way to do it was to squash them together with my hands.
  3. Cut out only the very woody ends of the leaves.
  4. Lay out the strings as shown. I think you need four strings cut sufficiently long to pass around the finished parcel and to tie at the top.
  5. Place the leaves onto the strings so that they overlap each other.
  6. Put a pile of stuffing onto the leaves (a little larger than the pile shown in my picture—I think I was a little mingy with the filling).
  7. Carefully fold the leaves over the stuffing and tie the strings to form neat little parcels.
  8. Cover with boiling water and simmer for about an hour.

Note: Mine were delicious, but I sort of steamed them for 45 minutes or so. The local experts look as if they have been boiled for longer. You can choose!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Boil the cabbage leaves.Arrange the kitchen string.Place the stuffing in the leaves.The cabbage parcels are ready to cut.
Boil the cabbage leaves.
Boil the cabbage leaves.
Arrange the kitchen string.
Arrange the kitchen string.
Place the stuffing in the leaves.
Place the stuffing in the leaves.
The cabbage parcels are ready to cut.
The cabbage parcels are ready to cut. | Source

Serve Hot or Cold

At our meals, the cabbage was served as a course in its own right, after the entrée, but before the main dish. No need for sauce, as it is a wonderfully moist dish. I served mine hot on the first day as the main course at dinner, along with baked potatoes, giving everyone a quarter each.

On the second day, when the cabbage parcel was cold, it was possible to slice it. Served like this with a little salad for decoration, it makes a super starter. They look so pretty on the dinner table too.

I made mine later in the evening, so the photos didn't turned out very sharp. I'll have an opportunity to retake them fairly soon though, as my 13-year-old son wanted them again straight away! How is that for success?

Cut into portions. Excellent hot or cold.
Cut into portions. Excellent hot or cold.

Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage Options

If you have a look at the comments below, you'll see that Amanda Severn has reminded me about adding a vegetarian alternative. She used to make a dish like this using 'Sausmix', and I think it would work really well if you replaced the meat with chestnuts. Please feel free to leave your favourite variations on a theme.

Questions & Answers

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      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        2 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        Hi, thanks for your message. Of course you can change the stuffings (though I never tired). Your idea sound wonderful. Can you come back and let me know how it went? If you can send a picture and recipe I'll add it to the hub.

      • Spanish Food profile image

        Lena Durante 

        2 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

        I love cabbage, but I usually eat it raw. I'll definitely try this technique. I'm imagining a Californian version with Mexican chorizo, fresh corn, and herbs!

      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        Thanks Beth. It really is tasty, cheap and an all-round winner. Do let me know how you get on if you do try them out.

      • profile image

        Beth37 

        6 years ago

        This looks fabulous! I'd like to try many of the recipes you have here. :)

      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        crystolite, Thx so much for the feedback; pleased you enjoyed the article.

      • crystolite profile image

        Emma 

        9 years ago from Houston TX

        Nice hub.

      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        katrinasui. I love cabbage too, but tend to neglect it as a vegetable. Do hope you like it.

      • katrinasui profile image

        katrinasui 

        9 years ago

        Wonderful hub. i like Cabbage. So i will try this recipe.

      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        Russell-D. Thanks so much for this recipe. I'm going to add another section to the hub and put your recipe, and Anne and Amanda's into it. If anyone has pictures, do send them.

      • Russell-D profile image

        Russell-D 

        9 years ago from Southern Ca.

        Some one earlier posted their stuffed cabbage recipe. In answer to that I passed on my Hungarian mother's recipe learned from her mom, from her mom, etal. She would put raisins into a sweet red wine and let them soak overnight, adding them to her mix of chopped meat of a sort, mostly veal and rice. She'd roll the cabbage tight around that and let it sit, cooking it through about an hour before serving. In France, you have raisins and great red wine. Try it, I know I loved it. David Russell

      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        Eiddwen, please do let me know how it goes. I hope you enjoy it.

      • Eiddwen profile image

        Eiddwen 

        9 years ago from Wales

        I have quite a collection of recipes bookmarked into 'My Favourite Recipes now.

        Thank you so much for sharing.

        I will let you know how it went when I try it out.

        Take care

        Eiddwen.

      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        Gypsy48 and AnnCee, thanks for your kind words! Your recipe looks great AnnCee and I'm going to make it as soon as I can get another cabbage. I'll have to use white rice though, as the French are not into whole foods yet. I must remember to bring a sack of brown rice back from England! Many thanks for adding it to this hub.

      • AnnCee profile image

        AnnCee 

        9 years ago from United States

        That's a very pretty way to do the stuffed cabbage. I make a filling of sauteed grated carrot, minced onion and brown rice. A stick of medium cheddar goes down first, then a scoop of the rice mixture. Make the rolls and chop the remaining cabbage roughly. Lay the chopped cabbage in the casserole and then the rolls. Pour over a can or two of tomato sauce. Scatter a little grated cheese on top. This sounds so simple but somehow the flavors come together to make a delicious mild dish that everyone loves to eat.

      • Gypsy48 profile image

        Gypsy48 

        9 years ago

        I love stuffed cabbage. Great recipe!

      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        mindyjgirl, thanks for dropping by!

      • mindyjgirl profile image

        Mindy Bench 

        9 years ago from Oregon

        Awesome!

      • Les Trois Chenes profile imageAUTHOR

        Les Trois Chenes 

        9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

        Thanks for this, Amanda. I love to have vegetarian options for recipes and I'd forgotten about sausmix - I used to use it all the time. I expect you could also replace the meat with chestnuts and still keep it very 'Limousin'.

      • Amanda Severn profile image

        Amanda Severn 

        9 years ago from UK

        Your recipes always look great! This one particularly caught my eye, because it reminded me of a veggie version I used to make using sausmix and a rich tomato and red wine gravy. I haven't made it in years, and you've just inspired me!

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