Cabbage Rolls

My husband has been hinting about wanting to eat cabbage rolls. He has all kinds of stories about his Aunt Peggy making good cabbage rolls.  That’s the reason why I have been avoiding fixing it.

One Saturday, after a trip to the doctor, we passed by a farmer’s market.  I love going to farmers market and supporting local producers.  There were all kinds of flowers, organic meat , grains and ….. vegetables!  We saw this big, pale yellow head of cabbage!  We did not hesitate.  We had to get it.  Well I guess now I have no excuse not to fix cabbage rolls.

I don’t have my husband’s family recipe for cabbage rolls.  So I just put together my own version.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole head cabbage, about 4 pounds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork, veal or skinless fresh sausage
  • 1 cup rice (rinsed until water runs clear)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 liter beef stock
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Preparation:

  1. (If you are fixing it in the oven) Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove core from cabbage. Place whole head in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water. Cover and cook 10 minutes, or until softened enough to pull off individual leaves.
  3. Cool cabbage in a pot if ice water or in the sink.  Drain and make sure the cabbage is dry.
  4. When leaves are cool enough to handle, make a “V” to remove the bottom thick center stem from each leaf, without cutting all the way through.
  5. When you have enough large leave to use in wrapping the filling, chop the remaining cabbage and place it in the bottom of a casserole dish or Dutch oven.
  6. Saute  the chopped onion in butter in a large frying pan until tender.  Add garlic and sauté until slightly golden brown.  Turn off heat and it cool.
  7. In a separate large bowl, combine beef, pork or sausage, 2 eggs, salt and pepper and the cooled onion and garlic.
  8. Do not overmix or the meat will become tough.
  9. Place about 1/3 cup of meat (I used a  4 2/3-oz. ice cream scoop) on each cabbage leaf.
  10. Roll like a burrito or a spring roll starting on the end with the cut-off hard stem.
  11. Place on the casserole dish or Dutch oven or slow cooker  lined with the remaining cabbage with the end flap on the bottom (to avoid opening while cooking)
  12. Season each layer with salt and pepper.
  13. In a separate bowl, mix together beef stock, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar.  Pour the mixture over rolls. Cover and cook.
  14. Cook it on high until the sauce boils then turn down the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 2 to 2/12 hours or until cabbage is tender and meat and rice is cooked.
  15. Serve with pan juices.

Tips

When washing the rice, make sure the water runs clear.  This process removes the starch.  It also prevents the rice from absorbing too much of the sauce.

Line the bottom of the pan with the left over cabbage and try to level the bottom.  The long cooking process might burn the bottom.  Lining it would (in case) burn the extra cabbage and not the rolls.

Make sure the lip of the roll is secured in the bottom to prevent the roll from opening.

Do not leave the pot in rolling boil.  A hard boil of the liquid will open up the rolls and will tear up the cabbage.

Cabbage rolls freeze well before or after cooking.

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