Speck and pork sarmale with sour cream and ewes' milk cheese


4 - 6
Prep time
Less then 30 minutes
Cooking time
Over 2 hours


  • 2 heads green cabbage
  • jar sauerkraut, drained and 250ml / 9fl oz of the sauerkraut liquid reserved

For the stuffing

  • 750g / 1.5lb pork shoulder, minced
  • 250g / 9oz speck (you could use pancetta or smoked streaky bacon), finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2.5 tbsp rice
  • 60ml / 2fl oz hot water
  • 1 thick slice bread
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Tobasco sauce, to taste
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp cold water

For the sauerkraut liquid

  • 750ml/1 pint 7fl oz water
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves

To assemble

  • fresh dill fronds
  • 500g / 1lb 1oz streaky bacon
  • 500g / 1lb 1 oz tomatoes, sliced

To serve

  • ewes' cheese, grated
  • paprika
  • sour cream


  1. Remove the large outer leaves from the cabbage and blanch these in boiling water for two minutes, then drain. Cut out the tough central stems from the leaves. Discard the stems and set the leaves to one side.

  2. Remove the tough core from the remaining inner cabbage hearts.

  3. Heat a little water in a large pan and place the cabbage hearts, hole-side down, into he pan. Cook for two minutes.

  4. Remove the cabbage hearts and drain. Strip the cabbage leaves, one by one, from the core - they should come away easily once they have been cooked. Remove as many as you can and set to one side.

  5. Shred the remaining cabbage heart and mix with the drained sauerkraut. Set to one side.

  6. For the stuffing, mix together the pork and speck (or pancetta or bacon) and set aside.

  7. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion, garlic and rice and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Add the 60ml/2fl oz of hot water and simmer until all the water is absorbed. Leave to cool.

  8. Moisten the bread in a little water, squeeze out any excess then tear the bread into pieces.

  9. In a large bowl mix together the bread with the pork and speck mixture.

  10. Add the cooked rice mixture, the dill, thyme, Tabasco, salt and freshly ground black pepper and the two tablespoons of cold water. Mix together well.

  11. In a separate bowl, mix the 750ml/1 pint 7fl oz of water with the reserved sauerkraut juice, the black peppercorns and the bay leaves.

  12. To make the sarmale, take the blanched outer cabbage leaves, divide the minced pork mixture between them and roll up to create parcels.

  13. Add a little olive oil to a large casserole dish then add a layer of the sauerkraut mixture. Top with a layer of streaky bacon, then add a layer of the stuffed cabbage leaves. Repeat in this order until everything is used up, finishing with a layer of sauerkraut.

  14. Lay the fronds of dill on top of the final layer of sauerkraut then pour over the sauerkraut juice mixture. Finally, cover with the smaller cabbage leaves. Drizzle over some extra olive oil, place on the hob and simmer gently for about an hour and a half.

  15. After this time, peel back the top layer of cabbage leaves so they remain in the casserole. Cover with the sliced tomatoes and cook for another half hour.

  16. To serve, transfer to warm bowls and top with the grated ewes' cheese.

  17. Serve the sour cream mixed with a little paprika alongside.