On my grandfather’s recipe
This is a Bulgarian dish traditionally served on Christmas Day or the evening of December 31 and, of course, throughout the winter season.
500 g pork (ham part)
600 g beef
300g boneless pork belly
500 g chicken (thighs and breast tenderloins)
400 g raw sausage
1-2 whole fermented cabbages (sauerkraut)
1/2 cup round rice
Chop half of the beef and the pork belly in a meat grinder. Season the minced meat with 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, paprika and ground cumin (each). Salt to taste. Add the rinsed rice and drizzle with oil. Refrigerate while you prepare the sauerkraut. Save the finest fermented cabbage leaves for stuffing. Chop the rest finely, removing the cob and the hardest veins. Make a kind of small rolls from the minced meat and reserved cabbage leaves. You can put a piece of pork lard in each.
Take a large and deep ceramic baking dish to layer the kapama. Start with a bed of cabbage leaves, left over the stuffed cabbage rolls (called Sarma /sg/ or Sarmi /pl/ in Bulgarian). Line the stuffed cabbage rolls tightly on top. Then dip the different meats, cut into chunks. Cover and toss with chopped sauerkraut. Season the different layers with black pepper, cumin and salt (if the cabbage is not too salty). Pour 200 ml of hot water over the kapama and drizzle again with oil.
Cover the ceramic dish tightly by sealing its own lid with a strip of dough. Bring to a boil on the stove (if the dish allows it, otherwise it may crack), then transfer to the oven, preheated to 160°C. Cook gently for 3 hours.
Out of the oven, let sit for a few hours. Before serving, transfer the quantity of kapama necessary for the meal in a shallower baking dish (picking from all meats, sauerkraut and stuffed cabbage leaves) and roast at 200°C until nicely golden.