My good friend and accomplished amateur cook Jean-Michel Valette speaks fondly of his childhood days in France, when he often visited his grandmother, who lived in Vouvray in the Loire Valley. The dish he loved best was her stuffed whole cabbage. When I pressed him for details, all he could remember is that she used a lot of butter. Through trial and error and the help of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two, we came up with something close that makes Jean-Michel very happy.

Julia’s ingenious contribution is to use a mixing bowl to re-form the individual leaves into the shape of a whole head. Unmolded, this makes an impressive presentation, which is then cut into wedges and served. A much simpler method is simply to layer the leaves and stuffing in a deep casserole dish or Dutch oven. Use crinkly-leafed savoy cabbage, which is much easier to separate into individual leaves than the ordinary tight-headed green cabbage. I always use the chicken livers, which give a creamy texture to the stuffing but add very little liver flavor. This is a long recipe, perfect to make on a cold weekend day.