Stuffed Cabbage - A family recipe

AHHH! The smell of stuffed cabbage – – heaven! When Mary Ann and I were growing up Stuffed Cabbage was served at every family gathering. Between us we had “just off the boat” Polish, Ukrainian, and Croatian grandparents. Stuffed cabbage and pierogies were the stuff of our childhood. Mind you, this “recipe” is flexible. A bit more or a bit less of each ingredient and things will turn out fine. The whole process might seem intimidating but followed, simple step by simple step, it all comes together beautifully. I ALWAYS make big batches of stuffed cabbage. I figure that, if I am going to do it I might just as well do it big. These pictures were taken in September 2010 – when I made 5/9×12 inch pans of cabbage rolls for the freezer.

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Stuffed Cabbage

The basic ingredient ratio for the filling: 1-2 cabbages/2 pounds ground beef-pork/1 big onion/ 2 cloves of garlic/1 cup raw rice. This allows you to make a single batch or double or triple the basic recipe.

– Cabbage – look for big, heavy heads. The heads I used in these pictures were between 41/2 and 6 pounds each and cost me $1.00 each – a grocery store special of the week

– Ground meat – I use half ground beef and half ground pork though any combination will be fine – 2 pounds total per 1-2 cabbages

– Rice – 1 cup raw white or brown rice per 2 pounds of ground meat. White rice is traditional and is what I use

– 1 beef bouillon cube per cup of raw rice

– Onion – 1 big onion, chopped fine and sautéed in 1 stick of butter or – if you must – use olive oil for 1-2 cabbages

– Garlic – this is a personal choice – some do, some don’t – I use at least 2 cloves per onion

– Butter or olive oil for sautéing the onion and garlic

– Salt and pepper

– One 46 oz. can tomato juice for every 1-2 cabbages – you can use 1-2 quarts of home canned. If I have tomato sauce I might use that.

– 1 to 2/14.5 oz. cans of sauerkraut – I use homemade sauerkraut

Begin by putting a large pot of water on to boil – use a pot big enough to hold enough water to immerse an entire head of cabbage. Cut the core out of each cabbage – do a good job of removing the entire core because you will be pulling the leaves apart in boiling water. Add each cored cabbage – one at a time, to the boiling water. As the cabbage softens remove the leaves, one at a time, to a plate. Spread out the drained leaves to cool. With a paring knife, trim the rib so the leaves will roll when filled. Your goal here is to thin the rib not cut all the way through the leaf. Set the leaves aside until needed.

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Meanwhile:
– Chop and sauté the onion and garlic on low heat, until they are soft and barely coloring.
– Cook the rice – For each one cup of raw rice bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil – add rice and beef bouillon cube – return to a boil, cover and simmer on low until the water is absorbed.
– Place the raw meat in a large bowl and add the sautéed onion/garlic, cooked rice, salt and pepper, and enough of the tomato juice to help things bind together loosely but not make it too juicy – maybe a cup or so.

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Lay out everything within easy reach: prepared cabbage leaves, prepared filling, sauerkraut, tomato juice/sauce. Lightly cover the bottom of the pan with tomato juice/sauce and sprinkle with chopped pieces of cabbage that are left after removing the leaves for stuffing.

To make the cabbage rolls: hold a prepared cabbage leaf in one hand, add a scoop of the filling and fold the leaf around the filling. Fold in both edges and finish rolling the leaf up. Place the cabbage roll in your pan. Continue to add cabbage rolls to your pan until you have a finished layer. Top the layer with sauerkraut and add a second layer. Add another layer of sauerkraut and pour on tomato juice to cover the cabbage rolls.

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TaDa!! Aren’t they gorgeous! At this point you can tightly wrap the pan in foil and freeze it. Defrost the frozen cabbage rolls in the refrigerator over night and bake them at 350° until internal temperature is 150°. Or . . immediately bake the cabbage rolls at 350° until the internal temperature is 150°. Obviously, the bigger the pan the longer the cooking time. We usually serve our cabbage rolls with a small pitcher of warm tomato sauce for topping them off. Don’t let the length of this post scare you – if you follow each step and line everything up before you begin filling the cabbage leaves all will be well. I hope you try our family recipe – it just might become your families recipe.

Hey from the farm,
Fran The Country Cousin

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