December 09, 2006

Holubki: Stuffed Cabbage

1 very large head of cabbage
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup uncooked rice
1 3/4 cup water
1 onion, minced
1 onion, cut into rings
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
40 oz canned whole, peeled tomatoes, hand crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon hot paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 350.

To prepare the cabbage - Core the cabbage by placing the head of cabbage stem side up on a table, inserting a knife 4 or 5 times around the stem angling in towards the stem, and then slamming the cabbage stem side down on a table to loosen the core. Pull to remove. Carefully remove the leaves of the cabbage by pulling on the thick ends and peeling down. Remove and set aside all leaves that look big enough to fold around 1/3 cup of filling. Steam the leaves to be stuffed for 7 minutes until pliable. Then chop the remaining small leaves to add to sauce. Suggestion: you can do this while you cook the rice for the next step.

For the filling - Cook 1 cup of rice in 1 3/4 cup water, bringing to boil first then cooking on low for 20 minutes. When finished, remove from heat and toss in the minced onion and shallot to wilt. Let cool. (Timing tip: while the rice cools you may want to get started on the sauce and then come back to this step when the sauce is cooking) In a large bowl, combine ground beef, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, egg, and rice/onion mixture. In a small frying pan, saute 1 T of this mixture and taste for seasoning. Add more spices if necessary.

For the sauce - Saute the sliced onion in butter and olive oil. Add chopped cabbage and some salt and pepper. Toss and cook covered for 10 minutes until soft. Add tomatoes, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. At this point, go back and finish the filling if you haven't already.

Assembly: Ladle some sauce at the bottom of a large baking pan. You might end up needed a second pan, depending on how large your leaves are and how closely you pack them together, so be prepared. Place a steamed cabbage leaf in the pan, scoop 1/3 cup of filling onto the middle and spread it out into a log shape. Fold one side over the stuffing, then the bottom up, and then the other side over sort of like you are folding a burrito. Fold the cabbage, rolling towards the fat part of the leaf until it forms a rectangular package. Place on the pan folded side down. Fill the pan with stuffed cabbage and then pour sauce over them. Cover and bake for an hour.

My thoughts:
The ingredients list is long, and the steps are many but it really isn't as difficult as you might think to make a tray of delicious stuffed cabbage rolls. They are so tasty and freeze wonderfully for future meals. My aunt would always make a bunch and freeze them for future meals and to give to lucky friends and relatives, but these are so good, we are keeping them all for ourselves.