The first time I ever had cabbage rolls was when I hosted a surprise party for my Mom's 60th birthday...of course, I hogged the spotlight and made all the food for it, with a scoff that fed 100 people, when in fact I only invited 30! You just can't be sure when an army will show up unannounced at dinner time!!
One of the things on the menu was cabbage rolls...my Mom loved them...I didn't know how to make them but she was gonna have them! Because I had never attempted this hearty dish, I winged it and I think they turned out pretty good!
This is how I put together this Polish classic so I hope there aren't any hard core, master cabbage roll makers out there tsking at my recipe...If so, like the GoDaddy commercial says "stick it !!" I've been dying to say that! :)
For these little bundles of joy, you will need about 3 lbs of ground meat...I use half ground beef and half ground pork...canned diced tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato juice, brown sugar worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt pepper, brown sugar, minute rice (uncooked) and a large head of green cabbage.
You will need a large head of cabbage so that the leaves are big enough to roll the meat mixture up properly...first, remove the scraggly outer leaves (if your cabbage has them...usually "in season" cabbage will have them but the ones from the store in the winter will already be removed.
Using a sharp knife and not slicing your hand off, cut around the stem...
To remove the stem and some of the core, I usually pry it out with a fork...this is not a graceful procedure, so if you have an easier way, I would do that!
This is how it looks (aren't you glad I'm not a surgeon?)..you will only use about 8-10 leaves, depending on the size of the cabbage...I cut this much away from the stem because the leaf closest to the stem is a bit tough.
Next, submerge the cabbage in a large pot of boiling water to loosen the leaves...put the lid on and boil for about 7-10 minutes. Take extreme caution when placing the cabbage in the water..I'm pretty sure you will want to avoid 3rd. degree burns like the plague!
After the cabbage has softened, remove from boiling water...
...and immediately plunge in cold water to stop the cooking process.
Set cabbage on a plate to catch the water that will sneak out and gently roll back each leaf...you should get about 8-10 leaves that are "roll worthy" from one large head of cabbage.
Cut a small wedge of stem out of each leaf...it will make it easier to roll. Set leaves aside while you prepare the meat filling.
Mince, 2 cloves of garlic (more if you like or less if you prefer minty breath)
In a large bowl, toss in your ground meat...I used 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef and 1 1/2 lbs. of ground pork...1/2 tsp. of salt and your minced garlic.
Next, add several shakes of worcestershire sauce and a 1/2 tsp. of ground black pepper...
...and about a 1/2 cup of uncooked minute rice.
Mix it all up with your hands until it's all incorporated.
Grab a handful of the meat mixture and roll it into a log shape
Place the meat mixture log in a cabbage leaf...
..and fold one side over,
...then fold the other side over...man, my hands look old!
...then roll it up
...into tidy little cabbage roll bundles!
Place each roll in a roasting pan and set aside while you mix up the sauce.
For the sauce I use these diced tomatoes with celery, onions and green peppers...they have a touch of sweetness that I think adds a little "somethin', somethin' " to the sauce...okay, I really can't stand myself for saying "somethin' somethin' "...who am I??! There will also be a french quiz on this photo after!
In a medium bowl, throw in your "somethin', somethin' " tomatoes...ahhhhh!! Next, add in a can of tomato soup...
...and 1 cup of tomato juice and 1 scant tbsp. of brown sugar.
Whisk it all together.
...and pour the whole shootin' match over your cabbage rolls.
Make sure the sauce is evenly distributed over all of the rolls.
Cover and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 1 hour.
Half way through, remove lid and baste tops of the cabbage rolls with sauce...replace lid and return to the oven...
...for the remainder of the cooking time or until the meat is no longer pink.
...and there you have it..."fly by the seat of your pants" cabbage rolls!
Serve warm with extra sauce spooned over the top...delish! (that's my new favourite word!)
1 large green or savoy cabbage
2. Remove the scraggly, outer leaves (if there are any)...cut the stem and some of the core out of the cabbage.
3. Boil for about 7-10 minutes until the leaves have softened...remove from boiling water and immediately put into a basin of cold water.
4. Remove from water and gently peel back the leaves and set them aside. You should get 8-10 leaves from 1 large cabbage.
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
several shakes of worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of minute rice (uncooked)
5. Mix above ingredients in a large bowl until all combined.
6. Take a chunk of the meat mixture and form it into a log shape...place each piece of meat on to a cabbage leaf; roll up and place them in a roasting pan.
1 can of "Aylmer Accents" diced tomatoes
1 can of undiluted tomato soup
1 cup of tomato juice
1 scant tbsp. of brown sugar
7. In a medium bowl, whisk all of the above ingredients together then pour evenly over rolls in the roasting pan.
8. Cover pan with lid and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 1 hour or until the meat is no longer pink...baste cabbage rolls halfway through cooking time.
9. Serve warm with extra sauce spooned over top...the sauce will be thin but will thicken up as they cool.
* These can be made ahead of time and reheated the next day...they will soak up some of the sauce if you prefer a "less saucy" cabbage roll. They can also be frozen.