Friday, November 22, 2013

Cabbage Rolls

These are so delicious and perfect for a chilly evening. This is the kind of meal my Mom would say "sticks to your ribs". Cabbage Rolls are simple food. They're made from easily found ingredients, and they're inexpensive. They do require a little bit of work, but it's actually not much. My favorite Cabbage Rolls are the Romanian kind, which are made with sour cabbage, but it is difficult to find anything that "exotic" in my small town. I plan to try to locate sour cabbage, or make my own so that I can make them and share them here. I also plan on making German Cabbage Rolls this winter and sharing them here.

1 head of Cabbage
3 TBS Salt

1 cup uncooked White Rice
1 lb Ground Beef (or turkey, pork, veal, etc)
1/2 an Onion, diced small
1 Carrot, grated
1 Garlic clove, grated or minced tiny
3 dashes of ground Cloves
1 TBS Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

1 28 oz can of tomato sauce
1 TBS Paprika
1 tsp Pepper
1 small can of Sauerkraut

Rinse cabbage and remove 4 outermost layers, set aside. Chop off the stem of the cabbage, and use a knife to remove the core. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, return to a boil, add cabbage. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook 10-15 minutes, until the leaves begin to separate.

While the cabbage is boiling, prepare the filling, chop the onion and garlic pretty small, so the filling isn't chunky. You want it to be homogenous. Just combine all of the ingrentients in a large bowl. I use my hands. If you're averse to touching raw meat, you can do it the hard way and, use a spoon.

When the cabbage is nice and tender, remove it from the water and let it cool for a few minutes. Then, carefully remove the leaves. I've found that using a pair of kitchen shears to cut the stem of the leaf helps to remove them without breaking them. ------------------->

Now, get yourself set up somewhere comfortable. I actually sit at my kitchen table to roll the cabbage rolls, since I usually make more than one batch. I know a lot of people have trouble folding the cabbage so the rolls don't fall apart, so I prepared a little photo tutorial. Please excuse my grody nail polish.

Hold the leaf in one hand and add a spoonful of filling to the center. Fold the bottom up, fold the side over, then fold the other side over, nice and snug but not too tight, since the rice will exand during cooking. Repeat. I get about 20 rolls from 1 head of lettuce and this amount of filling. If Ihave leftover filling, I just add it to th sauce. The rolls will be different sizes since the leaves get smaller as you work your way inward. It's no big deal. Look at all of these beautiful cabbage rolls, time to get them cooking!

Tear the outer layers that you set aside earlier into pieces. Put them in the bottom of the pot and cover with the sauerkraut. Put half of the cabbage rolls on top of the sauerfraut. Top that with half of the sauce. Add remaining cabbage rolls, top with the rest of the sauce. Add water until you see it on the sides of the rolls. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for two hours. I like to physically turn the pot a quarter turn every 20 minutes, so the cabbage leaves on the bottom don't burn. Make sure the liquid remains simmering, add more if it evaporates. After two hours, check for tenderness and enjoy.

 Cabbage rolls really don't have much going for them in the looks department, so it's a darn good thing they taste so good. They are hard to photograph in a flattering light, but don't let that keep you from trying them.

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