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Toltott Kalarabe

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    Posted: 23 May 2012 at 12:01

I’d mentioned, a few days back, how the markets here had some beautiful kohlrabi. Decided this would be a good time to try toltott kalarabe (stuffed kohlrabi), using the recipe in The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire (thank you again, Ron) as the base.

 

Y’all know, to paraphrase Robert Heinlein, there are three departments in control when food shopping: the practical jokes department; the bureaucratic boondoggle department; and the fairy godmother department. The first two do most of the work, because the last one consists of an elderly GS-3 clerk with weak kidneys. But sometimes she puts down her knitting long enough to touch somebody with her wand.

 

This time it was my turn. We got to the market to discover there was no ground veal. But there were several packages of veal chops that were reduced by a third, because they were near their use-by date. I’ve got my own meat grinder, so score one for me.

 

Going to the next aisle I discover that ground pork is this week’s special deal. Also reduced about 30%. Score two!

 

I did have to modify the recipe slightly, which I’ll discuss below. But here’s how it appears in the book:

 

8-10 medium-sized young kohrabies, peeled

Leaves of 5 kohlrabies

2 tbls lard

½ cup finely chopped onions

½ tsp finely chopped garlic

½ lb ground pork

½ lb ground veal

2 tbls rice, cooked in boiling salted water (1/4 cup cooked)

1 tbls finely chopped parsley

2 tbls sweet Hungarian paprika

1/8 tsp dried marjoram

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ½ tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp while pepper

4 cups chicken stock, fresh or canned

The sauce:

3 tbls butter

2 tbls flour

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbls finely chopped parsley

 

Slice off ¼ inch of the root end of each kohlrabi; then scoop out the pulp, creating a shell about ¼ inch thick. Chop the pulp coarsely and set it aside. Wash the leaves of 5 kohlrabies, then blanch them by dropping them into a pot of slightly salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain them, chop them finely and add them to the chopped pulp.

 

In a heavy 8-inch skillet, heat the lard over high heat until a light haze forms over it. Add the onions and garlic and cook them for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions are lightly colored, then scrape them into a large mixing bowl. Add the pork, veal, rice, parsley, paprika, marjoram, eggs, a teaspoon of the salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

 

Fill the kohlrabi shells with the meat mixture, tamping it down with a spoon and mounding it slightly. Arrange the stuffed shells in a 4-quart casserole or saucepan. Scatter the chopped pulp and leaves around them and add ¼ tsp of salt, the white pepper and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to its lowest point and simmer for 35-45 minutes, or until the stuffing is fully cooked and the sides of the kohlrabies can be pierced easily with the point of a sharp knife. Transfer the kohlrabies to a warm serving plate while you make the sauce.

 

The sauce: In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and with a wire whisk, stir in the flour. Continue to whisk over low heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the flour is lightly browned. Add the cream and whisk until the sauce is smooth and thick, then stir the sauce into the large saucepan. Simmer for 5-10 minutes longer, strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl, then stir in the chopped parsley. Pour the sauce over the stuffed kohlrabies and serve.

 

Is this recipe actually designed for the typical home kitchen? I tend to doubt it.

 

I don’t know exactly what “medium” kohlrabi means. The ones available were what I’d think of as somewhere between medium and large, so we opted to only go with six. Even so, the only pot I have large enough to accommodate them is my 12-quart oval cast-iron Dutch oven. And even then they were a bit crowded. I can’t imagine many home kitchens with a pot large enough to handle this. Certainly a four-quarter won’t, unless they’re supposed to be stacked.

 

Given the spacing in my pot, there’s no way I could have arranged the chopped kohlrabi around the stuffed ones. So I laid them down as a bed, and arranged the stuffed ones on top.

 

Despite the size of my kohlrabi I had meat mixture left over. Quite a bit of it. Then I realized I’d blown it. Without thinking, I used a pound each of the pork and veal. So I formed the extra into small meatballs, and arranged them between the kohlrabies as best I could.

 

I expected that doubling the meat would have made everything bland. But, as it turns out, the seasoning levels were just right. Wouldn’t have hurt to increase the herbs and spices, but wasn’t actually necessary. I suspect part of the reason was that I used an enriched, home-made stock, which brought plenty of flavor of its own.

 

There are a few ambiguities in the recipe. The question of stacking or arranging in one level is one of them. Another: Are you supposed to cover the pan as it cooks? The recipe doesn’t say so, but I’ve never made this type of dish (stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers, etc.) in which the pot wasn’t covered, so did so.

 

Something to be aware of is the quality of the ground pork. When the kohlrabi were cooked through there was a fairly heavy layer of fat floating on the surface---far more than lard would have caused. I can only attribute this to fat from the pork. Not a big deal; I just spooned most of it out. But you want to watch for it.

 

I was too lazy to bother sieving the sauce. So, before adding the cream sauce to the pot, I pureed everything with an immersion blender. Worked out just fine.

 

Would I make this again? No question about it. Given my druthers, though, I’d prefer small kohlrabi, no more than 2” in diameter. And I would serve it as a first course, rather than as the main dish.

 

  

 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2012 at 12:13
excellent write-up, brook, and i'm very glad to see the book getting used! i like how you laid it out and also how you described your experience when making it, with recommendations for anyone wanting to try this - great job!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2012 at 15:45
Thanks for moving this, Ron. I realized after I'd posted that, thinking of the book, I'd put it in the Austrian section by mistake.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2012 at 15:50
no problemo ~ it's good either way. plus, i am willing to bet that a version of this, if not the identical dish, was consumed in vienna at one time or another ~  Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2012 at 16:11
Smothered in whipped cream and sandwiched between slabs of pastry, no doubt. Confused
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DIYASUB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 June 2012 at 04:34
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

....

I don’t know exactly what “medium” kohlrabi means.

........  

 

 
 Perhaps I can help you out.
 If you grow your own Kohl Rabi you'll find that it begins life with two leaves like any other member of the cabbage family. If conditions are favorable it soon developes a bit of a bulge that becomes the signature globe-like structure that we use.
 Those of us that grow our own know that it would be best to pick the youngest possible but it just wouldnt be practical. Peeling a marble sized Kohl Rabi would result in a pea sized vegetable.
 We also know that letting them grow out to their fullest potential will give us a Kohl Rabi that is nearly the size of a softball, but is fiberous to the point of being woody and fit only to be diced and added to soups that we intend to be cooking until the Second Coming.
 So, in reality the author of your recipe is using size as a measure of practicality and quality. A Kohl Rabi that is tennis ball size or just slightly larger will be large enough to be handled but not so old as to be woody.
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