No, this isn’t for dessert. It’s a savory pie made from a few simple ingredients and it’s perfect for a home-style dinner. We’re not sure this is really a Russian dish, but, when we came up with the idea of making a cabbage pie — we envisioned a pie made similarly to a Leek and Cheese Pie, except with cabbage in place of leeks — we hit the search engines. That’s when we found a recipe for a Russian Cabbage Pie at Global Table Adventure. We modified ours a bit, eliminating the hard-boiled eggs, mainly, but the idea is pretty much the same.
Not knowing Russian cuisine, other than borscht and a few other things, we can’t be sure if this dish is authentically Russian or not. Although, we would say that Cabbage Pie does seem to have come from that region of eastern Europe. Regardless, let’s make this and add it to the Scratchin’ It arsenal.
Now, we didn’t make a batch of mayonnaise for this recipe. It’s simply too much for us to use before it goes bad, so we used the store-bought kind, instead. Not as good, but, well, as scratchers, we do what we can do. We did make the sour cream, however, because that recipe can be scaled up, down, and all around to make exactly the amount you need. It’s also the easiest recipe on the planet. Other than that, use eggs from hens that scratch and peck, just like all the babushkas did years ago. Finally, use your best judgement when it comes to cutting cabbage. We cut enough to fill a 12-inch skillet, and by the time it cooked down, it was the perfect amount.
Procedure in detail:
For the filling:
Make filling. This is all about letting the cabbage and onions cook for a good, long time to develop great flavor. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cabbage and onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until very soft, about 45 minutes. You’ll probably find that, for the first 30 minutes, you can have the heat on medium, but, after that, most of the liquid will have cooked off, requiring you to lower the heat for the remaining 15 minutes. Do what you have to do to coax the maximum flavor out of these simple ingredients. Once cooked to perfection, remove from heat.
For the batter:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter an 8×8-inch baking pan.
Mix liquid ingredients. In a medium bowl stir together the eggs, sour cream, and mayonnaise. You can use a whisk if you wish, but simple stirring with a spoon for a minute or so should result in a nice smooth mixture. It’ll seem as if it’s too liquid-y to make a good crust, but it’ll be fine.
Add dry ingredients. Add the baking powder, flour, and salt to the egg mixture and stir until smooth. Oh, you might have a couple of small lumps, but, as with pancakes, they should cook right out. Just don’t have the batter very lumpy. Use that noggin and it’ll be perfect.
Layer pie. Spread half of the batter on the bottom of the prepared pan. Add the filling and spread into an even layer. Finally, pour on the rest of the batter and spread to cover all the cabbage and make a nice smooth top.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake 45 minutes, or until golden brown. You can rotate it from front to back part way through if you wish, or just let it go and live with what you get. Your choice.
Stand. This is an important part of making this pie, at least if you want something that resembles a pie: crust, filling, crust, and not a mound of mixed up filling and broken crust: let that pie stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. It’ll firm up and slice perfectly.
The original recipe called for hard-boiled eggs in the filling, which we thought might make it too eggy, so we simply omitted them (along with another raw egg stirred into the filling). Even so, we thought this was great. Super, super tasty, we could hardly believe that we’d get such a great meal from such simple and ubiquitous ingredients, but we did. It’s downright amazing what some slow cooking does to change the flavor of cabbage, turning a bland vegetable into a powerhouse of flavor. If you’re ever at a loss as to what to make with that cabbage you have in the fridge, remember this dish, and turn it into a five-star meal.