Kåldolmar (or, "cabbage dolmade") may
represent an interesting "first" in Swedish traditional dishes: it's still pretty high up on the popularity list for traditional dishes (and is considered as Swedish as, well, IKEA and flat pancakes!) but it's obviously an imported dish. So, when does a dish go from being an imported, exotic rarity to downhome cooking? In my searching for traditional dishes to try for these posts, I've come across a large number of Swedish sites adding dishes such as "pasta with meat sauce" and "stroganoff" in their lists of traditional Swedish dishes. This strikes me as strange but I suppose the arrival of "kåldolmar" in Sweden was just about as strange a few hundred years back...
The commonly told tale is that the Swedish king Karl XII took the dish (or idea) back with him to Sweden after campaigning in Turkey sometime in the early 1700's. Obviously, grape leaves are not to be found up here so someone found the best Swedish substitute: cabbage leaves.
(On the other hand, this "history" should probably be seen for what it is - an interesting story. There are, afterall, no shortage of cabbage roll preparations thoughout most Northern European countries and their "invention" was probably much less exotic...)
But, enough of that! This dish takes a little time so let's get started!
The ingredients: round-grain rice (1/3 cup), mixture of ground beef and pork (1 pound), water (1 cup), milk (2 cups), one large onion (or two small), an egg, butter (1-2 tbls), golden syrup (2-3 tbls), veal or other stock (ca 1 cup), one 2-lb head of winter cabbage.
First, you need to get the leaves off of the head of cabbage. This is done by removing the root and placing the head in a pot of boiling water. Wait a few minutes and try taking off the outermost leaves. Repeat until you've gotten about 15 intact leaves.
While this is ongoing, cook your rice. Start by adding the rice to the boiling water.
When the water is mostly absorbed, add the milk (you'll wonder if the rice can possibly absorb all of the milk...) and simmer on very low heat for at least 30 minutes.
You want to end up with a very soft, wet pudding-like consistancy:
Next, saute the finely chopped onions in plenty of butter until just golden.
Mix together the sauted onions, the ground meat, the egg, the cooked rice and about 1-2 tsp salt.
You really should fry up a taste of this mixture to ensure that you've salted enough. It's a shame to do all of the work and end up with bland kåldolmar!
Now it's time to form your rolls. Take about a 1/4 cup of the filling and place it in the middle of a cabbage leaf. I've removed about the bottom inch of the thickest part of the "vein" in these leaves to make for easier rolling. Fold up the bottom, tuck in the sides and roll up towards the thin end of the leaf. Use a toothpick to seal.
You'll end up with a nice cluster of Swedish egg rolls (soon to be Swedish potstickers).*
Fry these lightly in butter until browned on both sides.
When all the rolls have been fried, pour on some golden syrup and add the stock (I added some caraway seeds at the last minute). Cover and simmer.
They should be fully cooked after about an hour. Remove the rolls and prepare a sauce with the liquid in left in the pan by adding a few tbls cream and/or using a cornflour slurry.
Serve with (any guesses?) boiled potatoes, lingonberry preserves and a salad.
This marks the end of this batch of Swedish dinners! Whew! It's been a joy, though and I can't think of a better way to prepare myself for my upcoming visit to Chicago where I don't plan on eating one boiled potato or lingonberry. Many thanks to all of the wonderful comments and interesting questions that I have gotten to these latest posts.
* A reference to an imaginative comment made by kare_raisu to my kroppkakor post.