Chou Farci

1 head Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely diced
2/3 pound ground beef
2/3 pound good quality bulk pork sausage
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Rabelais spice (see Note) or ground allspice
Fine seal salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, crushed, with their juices
1 large egg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, core the cabbage leaves and separate them, discarding any coarse outer ones.  Cook the leaves in the boiling water for 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch souffle dish or charlotte mold with butter.  Put a large pretty cabbage leaf, doned side down, in the dish.  Top with another leaf and continue arranging the leaves until the entire base and sides are covered.  You won't use all of the leaves at this point (reserve enough for 4 to 5 layers).

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Cook the onion and carrots until softened, 4 minutes.  Add the ground beef, sausage, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, spice and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is browned.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes, with their juices, and simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the meat mixture has cooled, discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Add the egg and mix well.

Put a layer about 1/2 inch thick of the meat in the cabbage-lined dish and top with a cabbage leaf.  Repeat until you've used all of the meat and filled the dish, about 4 layers.  Finish with a final layer of cabbage, making sure to tuck in the leaves on all sides.

Bake for 40 minutes.  To unmold, invert a plate over the souffle dish, flip the plate and dish, and remove the mold.  Serve immediately, cut into slices.

Note:  Rabelais spice is a mix of allspice, nutmeg, and curry - a traditional spice in France since 1820.

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