How lack of food and a former communist congressman in Albania helped preserve a family recipe that uses bay leaf, one of at least five popular varieties of this spice.
Bay leaf is used all over the world due to its many varieties. There are at least five kinds of them: bay or Laurel leaf, California bay leaf, Indian bay leaf, West Indian bay leaf, Indonesian bay leaf, and Mexican bay leaf.
Although, they are all called bay leaves because of their similar shape and fragrance, in fact, the Laurel leaf is the only one that comes from the laurel tree or sweet bay tree — an evergreen tree, native to the Mediterranean region.
Speaking of the Mediterranean region, I am taking you to Albania, a small country right on the shores of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The tough communist past that the country lived through suppressed the nation’s vitality for a while, but Albanians persevered.
We do have a small Albanian community in Omaha.
Enkela Vehbiu, my colleague, represents her native country with a recipe that has a unique story attached to it. It symbolizes the scarcity of food and the role of a congressman during the recent communist past.
You can find the recipe for Boiled Veggie-Egg-Stuffed Steak Roll below and watch the video to follow Enkela’s directions. And, while watching, please consider subscribing to our YouTube channel.
RECIPE: VEGETABLE STUFFED STEAK
SPICE: BAY LEAF
- 2lb thin sliced beef steak
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 sliced green, red and orange pepper
- 1 big carrot halved
- 5 garlic cloves, halved
- 3 boiled eggs, or more depending on the width of the meat slice
- 1 tbs sea salt
- ½ teaspoon or to taste peppercorn
- 1 teaspoon or to taste oregano
- Paprika to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup red dry wine or cooking wine
- 5 bay leaves (Laurel)
Slice all the vegetables per directions. Tenderize the meat to create a wide layer, big enough to allow for stuffing vegetables and rolling the meat. Season the top side of the meat layer with salt, oregano, and paprika. Place eggs in a row, to create a line along the widest side of the meat layer. Add vegetables along the eggs. Roll the meat around vegetables to create a burrito-like shape. Use a butcher twine to secure the vegetables from coming off.
Place the meat roll in a Dutch oven, cover it with water, add olive oil, wine, bay leaves, remaining garlic and vegetables. Bring it to a boil, then reduce temperature and let it simmer for several hours, until the meat is fork-tender.
Let the meat roll cool down for at least one hour before slicing – over night would be best.
Use kitchen scissors to carefully cut and take off the twine. Slice the meat at an angle – thin if you are serving it as a cold appetizer, or thick if served as a dish.
When served as a dish, make sure to warm the slices in the oven, at 250°F for one hour or 325°F for 30 minutes. Serve on top of rice, pasta, roasted potatoes or your choice of side dish. ENJOY!
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