Justin Miller, executive chef at Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa, creates beautiful, market-inspired dishes that showcase his produce purchases. Most Wednesdays, he drives to Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe to buy seasonal fruit and vegetables for the restaurant’s menu. Chino Farms’ focus is on flavor, harvesting fruits and vegetables each day at the peak of ripeness.
One of my favorites is his Savoy Cabbage-Wrapped Sausage With Risotto Cakes.
Miller says he makes it at home as well as at the restaurant. It’s super-easy to prepare, he says, especially if you have leftover risotto.
Have a look at the video. He makes it look so simple. But videographer Curt Norris cut the part out where he stuck his fingers in rapidly boiling water to jockey the cabbage. Ouch! Not even a wince. For the camera he used spring-loaded tongs.
In his dish, spheres of a simple sausage mixture are encased in Savoy cabbage leaves. The Savoy offers delicate flavor as well as a stunning appearance, its deep-green ruffled surface dotted with roadmap-like white veining.
Justin Miller’s Savoy Cabbage Wrapped Sausage With Risotto Cakes
Yield: about 6 servings
- Parmigiano stock (see cook’s notes)
- 2 to 3 large chunks Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds, plus water to cover
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 8 ounces Arborio rice
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided use
- Large handful Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sausage spheres:
- 1 pound bulk pork sausage (see cook’s notes)
- 3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs, plus more if needed
- 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 head Savoy cabbage
- Sodium-reduced chicken broth
- All-purpose flour for dusting risotto cakes
Cook’s notes: Reduced-sodium chicken broth can be substituted for Parmigiano stock.
You can buy Italian sausage and remove the casings. If desired, combine sweet Italian sausage with hot Italian sausage to suit your taste. Or augment sweet sausage with dried red chili flakes to taste.
1. If using Parmigiano stock rather than broth: Place rinds in large saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce to medium-low, cover and simmer 2 hours.
2. Prepare risotto (or use leftover risotto): In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add wine and cook until most of liquid evaporates. Add enough warm stock or broth to cover rice; stirring frequently, allow broth to evaporate and be absorbed. Don’t allow the rice to go completely dry. Repeat process, adding broth in 1/2-cup measurements, until all broth is used and absorbed. For rice cakes you want the rice a little overcooked, with no bite to it. Remove pan from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons butter and handful of Parmigiano. Season to taste (remember that the sausage will be salty) and pour into half sheet pan and place in refrigerator. A half sheet pan is rimmed and is approximately 18 by 13 inches. When cooled, flip the sheet pan over onto a cutting board and cut into desired shapes.
3. Sausage spheres: Place 4 to 5 inches of water in a Dutch oven or large-wide saucepan; put on high heat. In medium bowl, mix sausage, bread crumbs, parsley and milk by hand. Mixture should be firm enough to hold together; if needed, add more bread crumbs. To test for seasoning, cook a small piece in a small skillet and taste.
4. Place a bowl of ice water in sink or next to stove. Tear off the outer leaves of the cabbage and blanch them for 20 seconds in boiling water. Remove leaves and place in ice water. Place leaves flat on cutting board and cut out the center rib. Form the sausage into golf ball-sized balls. Wrap meatball in blanched cabbage around the sausage and squeeze to close; cut off the excess cabbage at base.
5. In a sauté pan, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat. Add cabbage balls in a single layer (you may need to do this in two batches). Add enough chicken broth to make it about 1/4-inch deep. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low; steam until cooked through, checking after a couple of minutes and adding more broth if needed.
6. While cabbage is cooking, lightly flour risotto cakes. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet on medium heat. Slowly brown the cakes on all sides. When the cabbage spheres are fully cooked, transfer to serving bowl using a slotted spoon. If there is a substantial amount of liquid, reduce by boiling to about 1/2 to 3/4 cup. Place remaining butter in sauce in pan and swirl to melt butter. Spoon the sauce over the cabbage balls and place the browned risotto cakes next to them. Finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. If desired, shred some of the small interior leaves of the cabbage and put a small mound on top.