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RBR Tailgating: Lamb Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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It’s about as consistently cold in the South as it’s going to get this year so it’s time for meat slow cooked in liquid.

As you all know, we have the SEC Championship on Saturday at Bryant-Denny East, this time against the team that beat Kirby instead of the team that allowed Kirby to advance and get beaten. There’s been a lot written about this game so I won’t add to the sum total of gump knowledge with my thoughts, especially as my thoughts are currently distracted by two - one silly but amusing to me and possibly me only and the other extraordinarily egregious - happenings in the college football world.

I’m gonna mention them real quick and then on to the food.

The first was from national early signing day. I was watching Florida fans and hearing from those who cover Florida football and all were pretty high on receiving the LOI from five star corner Jason Marshall. I can’t say as I blame them. He was ranked the #27 recruit overall per the 247Sports Composite.

We certainly wanted him. Apparently Saban made a call hoping for a last minute change of heart but was told by Marshall that he was firm on his Florida commitment.

Florida reeled in an enviable prospect in one of the top rated cornerbacks in the nation and while watching the cheering be-jorted fans all I could think was “I wonder how far he can throw a shoe.”

Silly, but amusing to me.

The egregious happening took place in the BIG10.

What was done to the Indiana players and coaches is unconscionable. The rules were placed before them and within those rules the Hoosiers earned a right to play for the now worthless BIG10 Championship. By vote the conference decided to change the rules and allow an unqualified Ohio State team to play instead based on presumed outcomes of games that were never played.

I think many fans feel sympathetic towards the plight of the Hoosiers. They did what was required and were found unwanted. Some educational institutions are more equal than others. I’m a huge Northwestern fan this weekend.

I’m not sure that anyone in the BIG10 has thought this far ahead, at least I was unable to find anywhere where someone wrote about it, but they have leaned hard on the idea that conference champions deserve a place in this or an expanded playoff. They can now take that argument and piss off.

The idea that the BIG10 “Champion” going forward is a team that outperformed their conference rivals rather than a conspiracy of a majority of school administrations to place the team most likely to beat out the playoff field is gone. They clearly have no respect for a season’s accomplishments by a member team that isn’t favored to get into the playoffs and will act to alter the outcome of what used to be a competition. Why the hell should anyone else hold whoever they shoehorn in as conference champs in any regard?

That’s my rant. On to some food. This is one of my favorite recipes that I don’t make nearly often enough. It’s filling, flavorful, and suited for buffet style serving.

Lamb Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

- 1 lb. ground lamb

- ½ red onion, diced

- 4 cloves garlic, minced

- 1 head of green cabbage

- 1 tsp. dried oregano

- 1 tsp. ground cumin

- ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper

- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

- salt to taste

For the Sauce:

- 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, torn by hand

- 1 tsp. oregano

- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped

- ½ cup dry white wine

- red pepper flakes to taste

- olive oil

- salt to taste

Start with the sauce. Add a few glugs of olive oil to a sauce pan over medium heat and toss in the garlic. When the garlic is just aromatic - do not let it brown - add the tomatoes, white wine, oregano, and red pepper flakes and turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce to low and simmer, stirring occasionally as you make the cabbage rolls.

Put the lamb, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon along with a tsp. or so of salt in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly by hand. If it seems dry to you add a little olive oil or an egg if you prefer to loosen the mixture up. I didn’t need either this time, but I have in the past.

Boiling the whole head of cabbage for 10 - 12 minutes came highly recommended by the internet. In the past I peeled a few leaves off and boiled them in batches for 2 or 3 minutes at a time. The internet recommendation was definitely easier but I lost a lot of the larger outer leaves as they tore way too easily when I tried to separate them from the head. As I moved toward the center I got perfectly cooked and slightly firm and less likely to tear leaves but they were smaller. I’ll probably do them in batches again next time but boiling it all at once isn’t a terrible option.

When you have pliable leaves, cut out the thickest part of the rib.

Place some of the lamb mixture on the larger end of the leaf. I try for about 2 oz. per leaf, but in the end the amount that goes in will be dictated by the size and shape of the cabbage. Fold the sides of the leaf over the lamb and roll it up. Keep doing so until you run out of lamb.

Lightly coat the bottom of a Dutch oven or similar pan with some of the sauce and then place the rolls seam side down.

Cover with the remaining sauce and bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook uncovered at low heat for 1 ½ hours.

If you have a crock pot you might want to cook in that instead of on the stovetop with a Dutch oven. Crock pots are so easy to set out and you don’t have to worry about losing heat as the game progresses.

So here we go again. Take down Florida and we are a lock for the playoffs, and not in a BIG10 manipulated money grab way. Roll Tide and DO whatever it is that Northwestern does (Meow!?)

Enjoy, no injuries, and Roll Tide.