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Grandma's Stuffed Cabbage Came Out Delish - Here's the Recipe

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Grandma Gertrude Tobey's Stuffed Cabbage

I gave out a recipe for stuffed cabbage a couple of months ago from memory. Since then, I've discussed the recipe with my mom and she reminded me that my Grandma Gertrude actually used V-8 juice and not tomato sauce. I made it today and it was so very good, and easy - so here you go...

Cook a cup of raw long grain white rice in 2 cups water and salt to taste.
Mix the cooled rice with: 1# best quality fresh ground beef (I prefer Niman Ranch), #1 ground turkey (not breast meat), finely minced medium size raw onion.

For the sauce: In a big stock pot or dutch oven mix: large can or jar low sodium V-8 juice, 1 tsp celery salt (omit if using salted V-8), juice of 1/2 large lemon, 1T sugar, 1 tsp. paprika.

For the cabbage: You'll need a big one. Cut out the core and boil covered, waist high in water for about 10 minutes. Remove and cool under running water. Remove the leaves into a colander until you reach leaves that aren't yet pliable. Boil for another 10 minutes until this smaller part is pliable. When you've got all the leaves in the colander and the water shaken off, you're ready to assemble.

I like to work on newspaper to absorb the extra water. Rather than placing the rolls right into the sauce as you work, pile them on a plate, just in case you wildly miscalculate and wind up with a lot of extra leaves or filling, you can back up and re-distribute. You'll have some extra cabbage no matter what, as some leaves are too small to roll. You can chop and add to the sauce, or reserve for another use. Place about an egg sized amount of filling in the stem end of the leaf and press of form a rough rectangle, fold the sides in and roll up. Always place rolls seam side down - important as this holds them together as they cook. Fill your pot rather tightly. When done press down so the sauce covers the rolls. They'll float a bit - you don't want them to rest on bottom anyway, to prevent burning. Cover. Set on a high flame just until boiling. Turn down to medium low for 20 minutes. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving.

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  1. Sounds delish! You can also use the extra cabbage to line the bottom of the pot so the rolls won't burn.

    16 Replies
    1. re: EAF

      Niki:

      Did you cut away the ribs of the cabbage before rolling? I've always had trouble with the rib being too thick or too stiff even after the initial parboiling.

      Thanks for this recipe. Haven't had these in years. My mother used to make stuffed cabbage regularly.

      1. re: oakjoan
        n
        Niki Rothman

        Hi oakjoan,
        Yes, for the bigger leaves, I took the knife point and just made a little "V" to cut out the tough stem end. Add 2 eggs to the meat mix (which I accidentally left out yesterday) and if you want it a bit sweeter you can add 1/4 cup ketchup.

        But I just could not believe how good that V-8 juice made it, compared to my previous attempts with canned tomatoes or tomato juice.

        Stuffed cabbage is one of my all time favorite personal soul foods.

        1. re: Niki Rothman

          Thanks for the reminder about this dish! Will try the V8 juice next time (this weekend?!) My mom added brown sugar on top of all, and used a bit of allspice in the meat filling. That was the only time the allspice ever made it out of the cabinet!

      2. re: EAF

        This is what my grandmother always did. She also used Campbell's tomato soup instead of V8 or tomato sauce. That probably makes some people shudder, but i wouldn't dare tinker with that aspect of the recipe. She threw in some bacon and/or a porkchop to give it some add'l flavor as well.

        Thanks for your recipe! After my grandmother died, i realized there was a lot missing from her verbal instructions and ingredient approximations she gave when i had the foresight to ask. It took a lot of experimentation and observing others' techniques to come close to her reality.

        1. re: papayagirl
          n
          Niki Rothman

          I think if your grandma made stuffed cabbage with Campbell's soup, then that's the flavor you want to try to duplicate. When I made mine with the V-8 yesterday, it was just like my grandma was right there with me again. Amazing how food has such sentimental power...

          1. re: Niki Rothman

            Agreed. The sad part is, we've discovered a hidden polish meats and provisions shop just down the street from our home that makes their own stuffed cabbage every day. You can walk in and get it hot for about a buck a roll at any time. (Well, after waiting in line for a half-hour behind 3 old polish ladies, each buying $200 worth of meat for the week.) They don't make it with any kind of tomato product or sauce at all, and my husband actually prefers it to my grandmother's. I have to admit, it is damn good, but i miss it the way my grandmother made it. It's just so hard to get around to making it when there's a much easier alternative.

            1. re: papayagirl

              My Polish grandmother in Langenburg, Saskatchewan taught me and most folks in that community did not use any tomato sauce in the making of holubci. They did use sour heads which yields more than enough tang and simmered the delicacies on the stovetop. In the absence of sour heads regular cabbage was used and the rolls stacked with alternating layers of saurkraut and a good dousing of vinegar added to the water. Sour heads rule.

                  1. re: Tatania

                    The entire cabbage head gets fermented like sauerkraut. Here is the place I get them. My grandma, of course, put them up herself. Very tangy.
                    http://kisselcabbage.com/

                    1. re: Size38pants

                      Wow. I did NOT expect that answer -- I thought it was going to be some sort of ferociously sour candy. This looks like an amazing product. Thank you!

            2. re: papayagirl

              Hi Papayagirl,

              My husband's family recipe, (called sarma) is also made with bacon and tomato soup. 'Sounds odd to some, but it's very good! We embellish a bit, but basically follow closely to the original. I like the idea of allowing this dish "marinate" overnite before enjoying! Many dishes taste better the next day anyway, don't they?

              1. re: nitegracee

                That sounds so different from the sarma I am used to. I make my Serbian aunt's recipe as well as a stuffed cabbage I found in a cookbook. May I have your recipe? I think my husband would like to try it. =) My Lithuanian grandma made stuffed cabbage with polish sausage in the sauce, but I have no idea what her recipe was. If it's just something she came up with on her own, I will have to just have to try my best to make something similar to hers.

                1. re: MrsJTW

                  Have ttried almost all the ways you all do stuffed cabbage,but in the end I wen't back to the way my Dad did it, which is the Serbian way,he sauteed the beef,veal and pork along with the onion's,I did however tweek it a bit by adding thyme and a tablespoon of mustard along of course with the salt and pepper and parsley,at the end of the sauteeing I add the rice put the lid on the mixture and let it cool.Since I no longer am privvy to sour cabbage heads I alternate sour kraut, he always used a lot of smoked meat's used water and several cut up tomatoe's,brought it to a boil then in the oven it went at 350 to 375 for one and a half hour's or more,I usually make my own sauce ,but when being lazy I use spaghetti sauce which I alway's have in my freezer but you can use a good store bought sauce,now my recipe call's for 1 1/2 pounds of meat to 1/3 cup rice.Oh almost forgot since my pocketbook can't afford all the smoked meats, I lay doublesmoked bacon on top of the cabbages,you can also use good smoked polish sausage.

              2. re: papayagirl

                =) My grandmothers and mother all used Campbell's soup in several different recipes, too. I grew up with that and always keep my pantry stocked with tomato soup and cream of mushroom. Plus tomato soup with lots of garlic powder and pepper is all I want if I get sick so best to keep it on hand just in case. ; )

              3. re: EAF

                Does your recipe freeze well? If so, how do you package it?

              4. n
                Niki Rothman

                Add 2 eggs to the meat & rice mixture.
                Sorry.

                1. I use tomato juice and Campbells tomato soup. I also top the cassarole dish with strips of bacon and rinsed sauerkraut. The sauce is really delicious. This is the way my friends grandmom did it when I was a kid.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Doreen

                    Could I get your recipe, that sounds delicious?!!

                  2. I haven't made this anytime recently (for reasons that will be obvious) but my mom always made stuffed cabbage with the usual filling, but in addition to being cooked with a tomato based mixture (probably V8), topped with onions sauted in *tons* of butter.

                    Hard to resist.....

                    1. My grandmother's recipe is a bit different, too. She learned to cook Roumanian food to please my grandfather. The cabbage rolls are called holishka's in our family.

                      Her sauce was sweet and sour made by carmelizing the sugar before adding in the tomato sauce and a bit of vinegar. She also used uncooked rice mixed in with the ground beef and cooked the dish in a pressure cooker.

                      I salivate just thinking about it!