When I first got the idea for this recipe I was thinking of layering the cabbage and bolognese with a bechamel sauce kind of like an old school lasagna. But I ended up deciding to cook the two separate so that I could add as much meat as I wanted while still easily keeping the structural integrity of the baked cabbage. Now that's probably me just being weird, so if you'd like to layer this dish to have a one pan meal, go for it.
Time: About 1.5 hours
For the Bolognese
2 - red bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup - onions, roughly chopped
2/3 cups - carrots, peeled and rough chopped
2 - celery stalks, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons - olive oil
4 - garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 pound - ground venison (at least 10% fat added)
one 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
8 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup - fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
For the Cabbage Au Gratin
1 head of Napa cabbage, cored and cut into 8-10 wedges
2 1/2 teaspoons - olive oil
1 teaspoon - kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon - ground black pepper
1 tablespoon - butter
1/3 cup - red onion, finely chopped
3 - garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons - rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups - white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cabbage on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cooks the cabbage until the edges are nice and golden brown. This will take about 40 minutes. Set a timer and while this is cooking, start your bolognese sauce.
In a food processor add the carrots, onions, bell peppers and celery. Pulse until they are finely chopped. If you don't have a food processor, simply chop the vegetables fine with a knife.
In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the vegetable mixture from the food processor and garlic. Saute this mixture for 5 minutes.
Increase the temperature to high and add the ground venison. Cook while stirring frequently and breaking up any clumps of meat. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat and keep warm while you finish preparing the cabbage. (Remember to check you timer on your cabbage in the oven).
In a sauce pot, add the butter and melt over medium low heat. Add the onions, garlic and rosemary. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the heavy cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook over low to medium-low heat for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Oil the inside of a shallow baking dish (you can use non-stick spray). Lay the roasted cabbage evenly in the baking dish and pour the cream over top. Sprinkle the white cheddar and the Parmesan on top. Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven and broil until nicely browned. This will take between 3-7 minutes depending on your over, so keep a close watch on it.