Over the course of my life, some of the best project ideas I had were sparked by movies.
This cabbage timbale recipe is evidence of my former statement.
“Les Saveurs de Palais” is a Lovely French movie that I watched in Paris in 2012.
It is a comedy-drama movie that is based on the true story of an obscure French chef who, to her surprise, was nominated as the private chef of the late French president Francois Mitterand.
This food memoires movie that takes place at the picturesque Elysees Palace is a delight for foodies and is available to watch on Netflix.
What I found fascinating about this movie that I watched some French unknown classic terroirs/regional dishes being professionally and meticulously made step by step. Cabbage timbale was one of those eye-catching delicacies.
Timbale which means in French a “deep dish”, refers to a sort of filling that is completely enclosed in a crust. That crust could be vegetable leaves or dough.
In the movie, the private chef lined the bottom and the wall of a deep pan with cabbage leaves, added three layers of different stuffings — rice, salmon, and greens. Then covered the top with more cabbage leaves.
She removed the formed timbale from the pan, wrapped it in a double folded mousseline aka as cheesecloth, and dipped it in pan full of simmering broth. When the timbale was fully cooked, she removed her timbale, unwrapped the cheesecloth, and sliced the timbale in wedges revealing the glorious, colorful interior.
I skipped the mousseline step and poured the stock right into the pan and then inverted the timbale. As you can see in the photo, it came out beautiful. I made this show stopper twice for two separate festive occasions with two types of fillings— once was vegan and the other had ground meat and both turned out excellent.
I found Cabbage Timbale to be a genius alternative to rolled cabbage leaves. In the middle Eastern tradition, cabbage leaves are rolled individually which is a fairly laborious recipe that we seldom have time for it nowadays.
Don’t get daunted by the photo, if you can crack an egg, you probably can make this dish. Watch this step-by-step video, and try to come up with your own version with a variety of filling. The sky of your limits.
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Recipe Credit to Chez Nermine
Serves 6 people
- 1 medium cabbage
- 1 1/2 cup of bulgur, rinsed
- 1 cup of mixed aromatic greens leaves (mint, parsley, cilantro, dill)
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 cups of broth, vegetable, beef or chicken
- 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
- The juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Blanch the cabbage leaves. Add the cabbage leaves to simmering water for 5 – 8 minutes until they are tender. Don’t over blanch them. Let them cool slightly
- Prepare the stuffing. In an oiled hot pan, add the bulgur and stir for no more than three to four minutes. This step will protect the bulgur from getting mushy during baking. Mix in the finely chopped veggies, spices, and olive oil.
- Assemble the timbale. Brush the bundt with oil. Line the bundt with the blanched leaves and avoid leaving any gaps. Add your stuffing and cover with the remainder cabbage laves.
- Prepare the broth. Mix the tomato paste, the lemon juice, salt, and pepper into the broth
- Bake the timbale. Add your broth to the bundt, cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. If in the middle of the process the timbale absorbs all the broth before it is fully cooked, add some more broth or water. The timbale is fully cooked when the whitest part of the leaves become translucent.
- Unmold the timbale. remove the timbale from the oven, let it cool slightly, empty some of the pan sauce into a sauceboat so it doesn’t burn your hands when you invert the pan. Over a large enough round dish, slowly invert the bundt.
- Decorate the timbale with some aromatic leaves and lemon slices.
- Serve hot.