Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sweet and Savory Stuffed Cabbage

I'm not really sure why I wanted to do some stuffed cabbage lately but it's been on my mind.  Makes sense.  It's a completely NorCal summer dish, right?  My heritage has nothing to do with Eastern Europe, where the dish is believed to have originated, and we have no Jewish ancestry, also associated with the origins of this dish.  However, I do recall my mother preparing this a couple of times in my youth, and I remember disliking cabbage in general, so I wanted to give it a go with my big boy taste buds and see what came of it.

I believe it was a success!  It's a bit intense to put it together but well worth it in my opinion.  Clear a couple hours from your afternoon, if you can, and give it the attention it deserves and you shall be rewarded for your efforts.  If you find you want a quick recipe, this is not for you.  If you want comfort food tastiness however, that's another story all together.

To accompany this cooking adventure I had some Stiff Little Fingers on the laptop.  Referred to in their inception as the Irish Clash, they faded from the scene in the early 80's and yet, I still find myself singing little snatches of songs here and there when I'm working.  So it seemed apropos to have some playing while I slaved away in a hot kitchen on a hot summer evening cause if that isn't work, i don't know what is. -justin

Stuffed Cabbage
Time: 2 1/2 hrs
Difficulty: Medium
Serves: 6-8

Wild Rice (for filling)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup wild rice
Bring water and salt to a boil and add the rice.  Return to boil and reduce to simmer until grains are tender, about 45 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain in small mesh colander and set aside to cool.

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow or white onion
  • 2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in large saucepan or dutch oven, add onions and sweat over medium low heat till translucent, roughly 8-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, vinegar, vermouth, brown sugar, raisins, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (see previous instructions on prep)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Combine everything in a large bowl.

  •  1 head green or Savoy cabbage, cored
  • enough water to cover cabbage in a large saucepot or dutch oven
Boil your water and  while you are waiting for that to happen you can core your cabbage (and make sauce and filling if you're awesome at multitasking).  Simply, use a sharp paring knife to cut the stem core out of the bottom of the head of cabbage.  Place the head of cabbage in the water after it boils and simmer for 3 minutes or so, until the outer leaves begin to become pliable.  Remove them with tongs (the water is boiling, remember?) and set aside to cool.  When all useable leaves are removed (the center or heart of the head isn't much good for rolling) cut the rib out of each leaf to make it easy to roll.


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of an 11x15, glass baking dish with a couple of ladles of sauce so the rolls don't stick or burn.  Place roughly 1/2 cup of filling, molded into a cylinder, at the top of a cabbage leaf.  Roll the "log" toward the stem part of the leaf, folding in the sides as you go.  Place the rolls in the dish, they can be touching, and cover with the remaining sauce (uncovered cabbage will dry out as it cooks in the oven, not yummy!).  Cook, uncovered for 1 hr.  Let it rest for 5-7 minutes before serving with a healthy ladle of sauce.  One or two of these are very filling!

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