The mushroom rice in this recipe is inspired by djon-djon, a classic Haitian rice dish made with a rare black mushroom found in the mountainous region of northern Haiti. I serve the rolls with sauce piquant, a classic Creole sauce, and onion-thyme cream to tone down the heat and uplift the overall dish.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely diced yellow onion
¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
¼ cup finely diced celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
Pinch of ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
¼ cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon molasses
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, chopped, juices reserved
1 cup water
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups short-grain brown rice, soaked in water plus 1 tablespoon vinegar overnight
½ cup sliced dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
½ cup finely diced green bell pepper
½ cup finely diced celery
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
2¼ cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 Savoy or green cabbage (about 2 pounds), core removed
Make the sauce piquant: In a wide, large heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and sauté until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and the salt and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, molasses, tamari, vinegar, tomatoes with their juices, and water. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Quickly reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Make the mushroom rice: Drain the rice and set aside. Put the porcini in a small heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over them, making sure it covers the mushrooms (you may need to weight them down with a small plate). Let soak for 20 minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop the porcini finely.
Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and the salt and sauté until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cremini and reserved porcini mushrooms. Decrease the heat to medium-low and sauté until the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock and mushroom liquid, add the rice, stir well, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 50 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and steam with the cover on for 10 minutes.
Make the cabbage: In a large pot over high heat, bring 3 quarts water and the salt to a boil. Gently slide the cabbage into the water, cored side down. Boil until the outer leaves have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the outer leaves. Repeat until you have eight large leaves to stuff. On a clean work surface, trim enough of the rib from each leaf so that the leaves roll easily. Put ½ cup of the mushroom rice in the center of a leaf toward the bottom. Fold the sides of the leaf in, then roll the cabbage up into a package. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Bring the pot with the sauce piquant to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, place the rolls seam-side down in the pot, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. To serve, spread a thin layer of sauce over four plates, arrange two cabbage rolls on each plate, and serve with a dollop of onion-thyme cream.