A feast of lights and joyfulness – this is how I remember my Christmases in Romania. The Christmas tree was a “must have” in my family – I’ve never spent one single Christmas without it. Romanian carols, although sober and quite religious, were magic.
I miss Christmas. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Christmas in Germany as well – I do, after all my family is here, and there’s nothing more important than having your family around you all the time. Yet something is missing. The children caroling with the star, gathering with friends and caroling on Christmas Eve, the food… wonderful, glorious food that makes my mouth water only when I think about it.
Kerry Kubilius of Guide to Eastern Europe Travel asked me, in a private email, to publish more recipes. Looking at this blog I realized that while traditions and attractions are quite rich (as rich as they can be in a blog with, so far, only 33 entries) food and drinks has only 2 entries and both are about… drinks.
Since Christmas is a special holiday and the food is special too, what better opportunity for a few new recipes? Besides, what better way to accept the Christmas Cheer Challenge initiated by Sue, than giving you a “secret” recipe?
Sarmale (pickled cabbage rolls) is one of my favorite dishes. It’s not exclusive for Christmas – all major holidays and celebrations (except Easter) offer a good reason for cooking sarmale. But since Christmas is the time when pork meat is particularly fresh (short before Christmas the pigs are slaughtered), Christmas sarmale are the tastiest.
For sarmale you need one large pickled cabbage, 1kg ground meat (pork), 2 large onions (finely chopped), 50 grams rice, lard, 5 tomatoes (or a can of pealed tomatoes – I do not recommend ready-made tomato sauce), four-five slices of smoked bacon, salt, pepper, water.
Fry the onion in lard till it gets gold brown, then mix it in a bowl with the meat, rice, salt and pepper. Caution with the salt: sour cabbage is already salty and too much salt in the meat mixture could ruin your meal. Carefully remove the cabbage leaves one by one, paying attention not to tear them. Depending on how big your cabbage is you need whole leaves or halves to make the rolls. Remove cabbage core – it is hard to roll the meat mixture if you don’t.
In a deep pot place the rolls in concentric layers. Cover with a layer of chopped cabbage, then pour the tomatoes (chopped as well). Place one-two bacon slices randomly among the rolls. The bacon will give a special taste and aroma to the whole dish. Repeat this till all rolls are set in the pot. The last layer is whole cabbage leaves and tomatoes. Add water to slightly cover the last layer of cabbage. Place on stove, bring to boil, and then reduce heat to low and continue boiling for at least four hours. Serve hot, with polenta and sour cream.
Another great sarmale recipe you find here