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your best stuffed cabbage recipe, please

  • g

OK, I love stuffed cabbage, all different kinds. It's not something I grew up with (my mother being a cabbage sceptic) but I'd like to teach myself to make it. Please give me your favorite recipe -- any ethnicity of recipe welcome. Helpful tips also welcome since I'm a bit intimidated by the whole thing. TIA.

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  1. Gretchen,
    You might want to try the search feature on this site. I remember a lengthy thread on this very thing. I would try both stuffed cabbage and cabbage rolls.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Plano Rose

      Thanks. That netted one great-sounding recipe from Coyote and a long discussion about sauces for Jewish-style cabbage rolls, that's all.

    2. j
      Janet from Richmond

      My Mom made cabbage rolls for us growing up. This is one of my favorite dishes and this is not a fancy recipe at all, but one of childhood memories. Get a pound or so of beef/pork/veal mixture (can use ground beef also)and mix with a finely chopped onion, a couple of minced cloves of garlic, about 1/3 cup of uncooked long grain rice, salt and pepper and a couple of healthy shakes of paprika. Set aside. Get a head of cabbage and core and cut off the leaves and blanche them briefly. Drain and rinse to cool. Make a meatball with the mixture and loosely wrap a leaf around it and secure with toothpicks. Repeat until you have no more meat. If you run out of leaves, toss in remaining meatballs naked. Empty a container of sauerkraut in the bottom of the pot and set cabbage rolls and meatballs on top. Coverwith tomato juice and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Serve over mashed potatoes.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Janet from Richmond

        that is almost my family recipe, with these variations

        + always a pork/beef mixture for the ground meat
        + no sauerkraut
        + a rack at the bottom of the pot to keep that layer from scorching
        + tough outer cabbage leaves at the top and bottom of the pot
        + a can of crushed tomatoes (or a quart jar of homemade canned tomato) instead of the tomato juice

        This has got to be one of the easiest and most foolproof dishes - nothing to fear! Recruit children to make all those little rolls up . . . a couple spoons of meat mixture on to the steamed leaf at the base end, fold over bottom of leaf, tuck in side of leaf, finish rolling and stack tight against other rolls. Cook on a low simmer.

        I'm always amazed that something with a primary seasoning of salt and pepper is so delicious. Don't be skimpy with the black pepper!

        And they freeze really well.

        And if you're really lazy and craving the flavor, you can do a deconstructed version in a deep frying pan.

        1. re: pitu

          My family recipe is the same as Janet From Richmond's, although I guess the original recipe from The Old Country called for ground ham. My grandmother would make cabbage rolls every Thanksgiving and Christmas (in the tradition of her husband's family). At first we thought it had come from a neighbor up in Winnipeg because my grandfather called it "holubtsi" which is a Ukranian term although he was full-blooded German. Later we found out it did come with my Great Grandfather from Germany so we're not sure where the Ukranian name came from.

          These are also very good with Campbell's tomato soup poured over top - in place of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce.

          I'm sure that last sentence has some of my relatives rolling over in their graves... ;-)

      2. This is one of my favorite family recipes - Latvian/Ukranian - Jewish. There's the way my Grandma Gertrude Tobey did it, then there's the way I do it. My way is pretty close, but with short cuts - I par boil the rice to give it a head start.

        OK let's go.
        This is for a 7 quart dutch oven. But you might get away with a 5 quart. Hopefully, you've got a Le Creuset or some such enamelled cast iron, because that's the best for low and slow stove-top. If not, you might want to put the chopped veg. only on the middle and top of the pot, so the rolls are actually kind of floating - this would be to prevent scorching, your main danger, which is more likely with a thin pot.

        First, a big ole green cabbage - place it waist deep in water and put on a low boil until it's well blanched but not completely cooked through - maybe 10 minutes. The idea is to soften it up enough to easily wrap the rolls, but not hammer it.
        Cool it in a colander under running water, drain.
        Cut out the core. Peel off the leaves, dry with a towel. Chop the first 2 outer leaves, if they've fallen apart or are really tough looking. If it seems too under-cooked to roll as you're nearing the center, boil that until softened. Chop the innermost very small leaves that are too small to wrap anything.

        In a big bowl, or separate pot, mix the sauce, adding - a minced medium/large onion & the chopped cabbage. Chop & add one clove garlic. Add 2 big cans stewed tomatoes with juice and mash in your hands to break it all up. Add a tablespoon of light olive oil (NOT extra virgin), fresh ground black pepper, and the juice of one large lemon and enough sugar to give it a nice slightly sweet taste. You should not taste it and go, "SWEET!" It should be less sweet than a Chinese sweet and sour sauce. It should be to your taste, but why don't we say a tablespoon for starters, then the second time you make it, adjust to your taste. Add 4 cloves. Mix. Pour a third of the sauce into the dutch oven.

        Make the rolls, filling the dutch oven as you go.
        If you don't know how to roll them let me know & I'll discuss. Pack them seam side down. For the rolls: One and 1/2 pound of the best ground beef you can get (I use Niman Ranch beef). Chuck has the best flavor, but if you have cholesterol concerns - ground round. One and a half pounds. One medium minced onion. 2 cups cooked rice - long grain white. Rice should be slightly undercooked. S & P.

        When you've filled the pot up half way add half of the remaining sauce. When the pot is filled, add the rest of the sauce. If there isn't enough sauce to cover the rolls, add tomato juice. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Skim fat.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Niki Rothman

          This recipe is very similar to the one i learned from the Latvian side of my family. I would reccomend making this recipe if you are going to choose.
          The only difference with my recipe is that there is no olive oil, only shmaltz. I think this makes a big difference. Somehow rendered chicken fat makes Jewish food taste right.

          1. re: MV

            Well thanks for the high praise, MV. Maybe we're related. Not too many Latvian Jews around anymore.
            You are so right about the chicken fat. But who cooks with it anymore? But that would be THE authentic T'am.
            The light olive oil was my adaptation for the modern world. I even use it to make my dynamite kasha varishkas. I also added the 4 cloves - going for a slightly sweet aromatic quality - but I don't want there to be enough clove that it could actually be identified as such.

            So, for the O.P. - you want the REAL deal, render some chicken fat on medium heat in a fry pan and use a couple of tablespoons instead of the olive oil when mixing the sauce. But still DO skim the fat at the end. What fat remains will give an authentic taste. And omit the cloves.

          2. re: Niki Rothman

            this reminds me about the cabbage . . .
            before steaming it, we'd get rid of the core by giving the raw cabbage a good strong wack on the kitchen counter. A direct hit on the core makes it come out very easily, and so the steaming happens quicker and more evenly.

          3. This is not really a traditional stuffed cabbage. For a friend's babyshower, I did some roasted vegetable couscous stuffed cabbage. I roasted some small, diced root vegetables in the oven w/ just some salt, pepper and olive oil (cumin works well here, too). Once the vegetables are cooked and caramelized, I add them to the prepared couscous (equal amount of couscous and hot broth of your choice, place in bowl and cover w/ plastic wrap for 5 minutes; fluff w/ fork). I blanched some cabbage leaves and put some of the couscous in the middle and rolled up. You can secure them w/ a toothpick if you like.

            1. I LOVE the linked recipe (there's also a vegetarian version w/potato stuffing). However, I'm a total lazybones about stuffing cabbage and almost always just deconstruct it into a sort of skillet dish (chop the cabbage, simmer all together). Still tastes great.

              Link: http://www.ucook.com/ShowRecipe.cfm?r...

              1. I make kåldolmar, which are Swedish cabbage rolls. (Leave it to the Swedes to appropriate a Middle Eastern recipe and substitute cabbage instead of grape leaves!)

                Cook rice, then mix it with onions, garlic, celery, parsley and a tiny bit of beaten egg. Put the rice mixture inside (very very) thin slices of beef, then roll the beef inside the cabbage. Simmer in stewed tomatoes to come halfway up the side of the layer of rolls.

                1. Growiing up, I loved the stuffed cabbage at JUNIORS in Brooklyn.
                  Sadly, they no longer have it on the menu.

                  It was sweet ,savory,and caramelized with carrots and raisins in the sauce.

                  I think this is traditional Jewish Stuffed Cabbage.

                  Anyone have the recipe or something similar?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Fleur

                    I wish I had my grandmother's recipe, which sounds similar. She also added crushed up gingersnaps, of all things.

                  2. I like to stuff a whole head of cabbage, German style. Savoy cabbage lends a nice ruffled texture and the cream sauce gives it some silkiness. This recipe comes from Hannelore Kohl's A Culinary Voyage through Germany. No sharp hits of spice or piquant notes here, just essence of cabbage and pork type of comfort.

                    Stuffed Head of Cabbage (Gefullter Kohlkopf)
                    serves 4

                    1 large head savoy or white cabbage (2 or 3 baby cabbages are nice too, esp. the darker green ones from farmer's markets)
                    1 1/2 lbs ground slab bacon or salt pork (we add 1 c ground pork to it)
                    (BIG) pinch of pickling spices (mix such as cloves, peppercorns, juniper berries, allspice)
                    1 bay leaf
                    1 onion, peeled and halved
                    1/4 c clarified butter
                    1/3 c flour
                    pinch sugar
                    salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste
                    1 c sour cream

                    1. Cut out cabbage stem. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add cabbage, reduce heat, simmer 10 minutes. Drain cabbage.

                    2. Cut the cabbage in half, then remove the heart of each half (set aside). Fill the cavities with ground bacon/pork (we add some salt & pepper to this). Realign the cabbage halves so it looks whole and tie shut with kitchen string (tightly as possible, use cheese cloth too if you wish).

                    3. Set the cabbage in a big pot of water to cover, along with pickling spices, bay leaf, onion, and reserved hearts. Set flame on low and cook 1 1/2 -2 hrs, until tender.

                    4. Melt clarified butter in a pan and then mix in flour. Cook until brown. Whisk in little spoonfuls of cabbage stock until a smooth & thick sauce comes together. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Gently cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in sour cream. (taste and add more salt & nutmeg if needed)

                    5. Remove cabbage from water and drain, cut off string, and place on a serving platter. Ladle sauce over cabbage. Serve with boiled potatoes and cabbage hearts (carrots are great too).

                    1. For the best cabbage rolls cook in oven with just enough tomato juice to moisten. Then the next day heat in a covered, generously buttered frying pan to brown the outer cabbage skin.

                      1. YUM, thank you everyone. Every single one of these recipes is going on my list for this winter.

                        1. Seems like you have a lot of stuffed cabbage recipes already. If you would like a recipe for a cabbage borscht (the version my mom makes is vegetarian and sweet and sour, it's delish), let me know and i'll get the recipe.

                          1. Here's a different one--shrimp stuffed cabbage (very good!)

                            1. 1 1/2 lbs hamburg
                              1/2 lb ground pork
                              2 cans crushed tomatos
                              10 beef boullion cubes
                              3 or 4 onions (cut up)
                              Minute Rice
                              I put a large head of cabbage in the freezer overnight and take it out to defrost, then I cut the core out and peel the cabbage leafs off to use to roll the meat and rice.
                              I use a large roasting pan and fill it with about an inch of water and bring this to a boil on top of the stove.
                              Add the beef boullion cubes to water and disolve , then add the onions and 1 small pkg. of sliced mushrooms.
                              Mix the hamburg, pork and about 10 handfulls of the minute rice, then make cylindrical roll shapes and put the mixture inside cabbage leafs taking care to wrap so they don't come undone.
                              Place in the roasting pan liquid and add some cabbage leaves over everything and add the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes.
                              Cover and place in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours.
                              Here you have Polish Golubki.

                              1. Has anyone ever tried brown rice instead of regular rice? I tried it to make it more Weight Watcher friendly. Noone (I mean noone) knew there was brown rice in there.