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Jewish style sweet and sour stuffed cabbage

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I am looking for a recipe for Jewish style sweet and sour stuffed cabbage. Epicurious cites one called sweet and sour stuffed mustard cabbage. Does anyone have a sense if this recipe would do the trick? It looks good, but I am unsure. If not, does anyone have a not too sweet recipe for stuffed cabbage in a light tomato sauce? Thanks so much.

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  1. My grandmother used ginger snaps and raisins AND sugar......and lemon.....she used rice but I sometimes use barley instead.....I think you might call the recipe sweet but if you want I will post it, although some of it is a bit vague and you just have to feel your way. I think Raymond Sokolov has a good recipe in his book on Jewish cooking. If you cannot find the book, try Joan Nathan.

    17 Replies
    1. re: erica

      Thanks for your suggestions. I forgot to ask what people might serve with stuffed cabbage. Gourmet says mashed potatoes, but that does not sound right. I am likely to use rice in the meat filling, so I am not sure more rice is a good idea. How about a barley side dish? Anyother ideas are most welcome.

      1. re: Alexandra

        Mom always served mashed potatoes, so Gourmet may be right.

        1. re: LBQT

          Agree with Gourmet & LBQT's Mom. Mashed potatoes.

          Think about it. Stuffed Cabbage is a lot like Stuffed Green Peppers - which typically is stuffed with ground beef and rice.

          And what's best with that?

          Mashed potatoes.


          1. re: ChrissieH

            no.. rice is a starch how many starches do you want in one meal? maybe some zuccini or summer squash, sauteed in butter would do as a nice compliment.

            1. re: ChrissieH

              I love the combination. If I don't make mashed, I do a German Potato Salad - it just goes so well with it. (I use very little rice in my rolls).

              1. re: bayoucook

                this is the best stuffed cabbage ever and I like to make a potato kugel (pudding) to go along with it.—

                From "The Art of Jewish Cooking" by Jennie Grossinger, Bantam).


                Large head cabbage

                2 tablespoons fat (schmaltz or vegetable oil)

                2 onions, sliced

                3 cups canned tomatoes

                1/2 cup ketchup (optional)

                3 teaspoons salt

                1/2 teaspoon pepper

                Beef bones

                1 pound ground beef

                3 tablespoons uncooked rice

                4 tablespoons grated onion

                1 egg

                3 tablespoons cold water

                3 tablespoons honey

                1/4 cup lemon juice

                1/4 cup seedless raisins


                Pour boiling water over cabbage to cover and let soak for 15 minutes. Remove 12 leaves carefully so they remain intact. If leaves are small, use 18 instead.

                Heat fat in a deep, heavy saucepan. Add onions and cook until lightly brown. Add tomatoes, ketchup, half of the salt and pepper and all the bones. Cook over low heat 30 minutes.

                Mix together beef, rice, grated onion, egg and water.

                Place about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture on each cabbage leaf. Tuck in the sides and roll up carefully. Add to the sauce. Cover and cook over low heat 11/2 hours. Add honey, lemon juice and raisins. Cook 30 minutes longer.

                Makes 6 servings as a main course.

                1. re: lucyis

                  Will definately try that one - looks delicious!

                  1. re: bayoucook

                    I've been making it for years and it never fails. Enjoy!

          2. re: Alexandra

            My grandmother did not serve with a side dish but a starch is good to "sop up" the sauce. Barley or, maybe, mashed potatoes although that is not traditional in Jewish cooking, or at least the type I know.

            1. re: Alexandra

              Kasha Varnishkas!!! (bow tie pasta w/ buckwheat groats)


              1. re: Alexandra

                How about farfel(the barley,not matzah kind)? I love that stuff. Especially if you saute yellow onions first with reconstituted dried Polish mushrooms. Use the strained mushroom liquid for simmering the farfel - delicious Jewish soul food.

                1. re: Heidi Claire

                  Do you mean kasha (which are buckwheat groats, I think)? That could be an interesting pairing.

                  1. re: LBQT
                    Heidi Claire

                    Nope. I mean farfel. The (egg)"barley" kind is actually a form of egg pasta. Small, irregular, pebbly pieces. Do try them sometime.You can usually find it in the Kosher section of your grocery packaged in tubular plastic, like the Manischewitz soup mixes. There is also a matzah type for passover which, to me, is just about as toothsome (not) as most other designated-for-passover foods. But I do adore kasha and I think that would be excellent as well. I've seen recipes for vegetarian stuffed cabbage substituting kasha for meat in the filling - must be a natural.

                  2. re: Heidi Claire

                    Now there's a food item I haven't had or thought about in a lot of years, I think as a kid I ate it because I liked the way the name rolled off the tongue, far-full...

                    1. re: Chino Wayne

                      ooh farfel in chicken soup - my dad's favourite (and mine). Never seen it in America is it available?

                  3. re: Alexandra

                    you dont have to serve any side dish with stuffed cabbage as it has meat and rice already in it.

                  4. re: erica
                    Michele Cindy

                    Yes! My grandmother also used ginger snaps. If you are going to make stuffed cabbage they add a great flavor to the dish.

                  5. Here's a link to lots of Jewish-style stuffed cabbage recipes from a Jewish e-mail list. You should find something you like here.

                    Link: http://www.jewish-food.org/recipes/ca...

                    1 Reply
                    1. Russian Stuffed Cabbage

                      12 large cabbage leaves
                      1 lb lean ground beef
                      1 onion, grated
                      1/2 C cooked rice
                      1/2 t salt
                      pepper to taste
                      2 C canned tomatoes, broken up
                      1/2 C raisins
                      1 onion, finely chopped
                      2 T vinegar
                      2 T sugar
                      1/2 C corn syrup
                      sour cream to garnish

                      Soak cabbage leaves in boiling salted water till limp; drain and dry with paper towels. Combime beef, grated onion, rice, salt and pepper. Place a small portion of mixture in each cabbage leaf. Roll up and secure with wooden toothpick. Place in Dutch oven. Repeat til all cabbage leaves are full. Combine tomatoes, raisins, chopped onion, vinegar, sugar and corn syrup. Pour over cabbage rolls. Add enough water to barely cover rolls. Cover and cook at slow boil for one hour. Place layer of gingersnaps over rolls, cover, reduce heat and simmer for one hour longer. Serve hot with sour cream garnish.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: ChrissieH

                        This sounds like a delicious recipe, and very similar to one my mother makes, but a Jewish recipe would definitely NOT include sour cream to garnish a meat dish. IMHO, no garnish is necessary - they're good on their own!

                        1. re: LBQT

                          Well, I guess you could serve the sour cream on the side for your Goyim friends!

                          Also, in that recipe, I neglected to say that you should trim any particularly heavy and thick ribs from the cabbage leaves before you wrap them.

                          1. re: ChrissieH

                            A Russian non-kosher jew would most definitely serve sour cream on stuffed cabbage - and borscht, and just about anything!

                            1. re: Heidi Claire

                              True. Flying in the face of tradition I have an acquaintance who surrounds her stuffed cabbage with a medium white sauce instead of the usual tomato sauce. It's wonderful, too.

                              1. re: Deb Van D

                                Hmmm....that sounds very interesting, too.

                      2. OK, I can help with a classic recipe. This is truly delicious and has been made in my family for generations. It is sweet. But it's delicious.

                        1 large head cabbage
                        2 lbs chopped meat
                        1 egg
                        1/2 cup water (stock would be better)
                        1/4 cup rice
                        1 large onion
                        2 lemons (juice)
                        1/2 cup white sugar
                        1/2 cup brown sugar
                        1 tin of tomatoes
                        salt and pepper

                        Part i: Cut heart out of cabbage and place cabbage in boiling water to cover, boil 5 minutes, separate leavs and drain well

                        Part ii: Mix chopped meat w/ beaten egg, rice and water, grated onion and seasoning. Place heaping tablespoon of mixture on cabbage and form into roll. Place rolls in pot, cover w/ tomoatoes, sugar and lemon juice. Cook for 2 hours on top of stove in tightly coverd pot (we use a heavy porcelain enamel) then remove cover and bake at 350 for 2 hours longer.

                        1. Alexandra - here's a helpful hint that i find works wonderfully - the night before you plan to make stuffed cabbage (and provided you've got a decent sized freezer) put the entire head of cabbage in the freezer, next day place the entire head of cabbage into a pot of boiling water, the leaves will slip off easily.

                          1. Alexandra - here's a helpful hint that i find works wonderfully - the night before you plan to make stuffed cabbage (and provided you've got a decent sized freezer) put the entire head of cabbage in the freezer, next day place the entire head of cabbage into a pot of boiling water, the leaves will slip off easily.

                            1. Rose Aronson’s Stuffed Cabbage (Rose was my grandfather Frank Commanday’s sister; origins, Russia)

                              We have made this dish in our family for many many years. I disliked it when I was young, but now love it, and often prepare it for large gatherings. It's always a big hit! Leftovers freeze nicely. I include my cooking method, "perfected" over many years of making this dish. Enjoy!

                              2 mid-sized cabbages
                              2-1/2 lbs lean ground meat, e.g. chuck
                              ½ onion, diced
                              ½ c. white rice
                              some bread crumbs or a couple of pieces of crustless white bread soaked in water or stock
                              salt, pepper
                              4-5 large yellow onions, cut in rings (a crying task)
                              3 cans tomato soup, diluted with equal amounts of water (you can start with two, add a third later)
                              brown and white sugar, about ½ c. each per pan (see below)
                              juice of one large lemon or two small
                              ground ginger
                              1 c. raisins (or more, to taste)

                              Core the cabbages. Steam them (I do this in 2 large pots at the same time), peeling off the leaves with a tongs as they soften (coring in advance makes this easier). You can do this a day ahead, piling the leaves on a platter, covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating them. Mix the meat with the diced onion, rice, bread (as a binder), salt & pepper. You can do this the night before, refrigerated of course!

                              When ready to cook, place an egg-sized clump of the mixture in the center of a cabbage leaf (keep them small, they swell!), wrap and fix with a toothpick (these can be removed after cooking). Arrange on flat roasting pans in a single layer. Divide up the lemon juice and raisins between the two pans, sprinkle with ginger and sugar, pile the raw onion rings on top, pour diluted tomato soup over everything. Bake in oven at 350 degrees to start. After ½ hour, turn all the cabbages and again at least every half hour after that so that they cook and brown evenly. The onion rings and raisins will get singed if you don’t get them down into the soup! And the soup thickens (because of the sugar, in part, creating a nice glaze over all), so as they brown you have to keep adding and stirring in more water. After a bit you can lower the heat just to keep them at a low simmer.

                              Cook until they are all nicely browned, about 3 hours or so. You’ll probably have enough to serve 10-12 people. I serve them with a thick yogurt and cucumber “soup” (made with salted and drained chopped cukes, seeds removed — I use the “burpless” kind, and mix in some blanched crushed garlic to taste, dried chopped dill or mint) and a green veggie (green beans, asparagus).

                              3 Replies
                                1. re: Elis

                                  My MIL prepared her cabbage in a very similar manner. I have her recipe that is so extremely vague, i.e. dictating amounts as just "beef"! Thanks for this recipe. I like to add fresh snipped dill to the filling, as well - something my grandmother added to her ground meat dishes.

                                  1. re: Elis

                                    My mother, who had Russian heritage, made her halupki in almost the same manner. Only difference was vinegar in place of the lemon juice. I can't remember her serving them with any starch other than a nice loaf of pumpernickle bread and a tub of butter. She did, however, usually have thinly sliced cucumbers and red onions in a sweet/sour vinegar solution as a side.

                                  2. The recipe I use (Roumanian) is a bit different from these: no brown sugar, no raisins, no gingersnaps, no lemon juice. Sour salt, and possibly a bit of vinegar, is used for the "sour" component. White sugar is used for the "sweet component."

                                    The filling is pretty much as advertised: beef, rice, onions, salt, pepper.

                                    The sauces is made from a can of chopped tomatoes, leftover cabbage chopped rather small, a bit of onion, sour salt, sugar, and vinegar. I like to start that sauce, sans cabbage, in a separate pot, so that I can get the flavor balance more or less right before I pour it over the cabbage.

                                    As others have mentioned, this freezes well, so I like to make a pretty big batch. I then freeze it in portions appropriate for two people.

                                    Pat G.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Pat Goldberg

                                      For a different Romanian take: "Crossroads Cooking" by Elisabeth Rozin, has a recipe for Romanian stuffed cabbage that is filled with mamaliga (basically polenta).

                                      The mamaliga has carmelized onions and farmer cheese in it, and is used to stuff the cabbage.

                                      The sauce is a tomato sauce with sauerkraut in it, and, if I remember correctly no sweet component at all.

                                      My background is Romanian Jewish, and while my mother made both stuffed cabbage and mamaliga, I never thought to put the two together. She never used any gingersnaps or raisins, only a little sugar in her stuffed cabbage.

                                      My personal taste is towards the sour end of the sweet/sour spectrum. I don't know if this is because it is what I like, what I was raised on, or if this is the Romanian Jewish style.

                                    2. my husband's grandmother, who passed away two weeks ago, made the best sweet and sour stuffed cabbage in the world. (my hungarian mother makes a great one too, but it isn't sweet and sour). unfortunately, i don't have the recipe, but the one thing she did do, which i haven't seen on any of the recipes posted yet, is added a whole, peeled, grated granny smith apple to her sauce. it gave the sauce a fabulous sweet-sour tanginess.

                                      1. You can adjust the sweet/sour ratio any way you want it. I have my dear late MIL's recipe - she came to this country in 1902 with a passport we have that contains the Romanov eagle on it, as she was a citizen of the czar. Hannah also pointed out that you can use as much or little rice in it as you think right, depending on how far you need to stretch it. Hers only had a dab, maybe a couple of tablespoonsful to a pound of meat and one head of cabbage, so it was more a thickener than an actual serious contributer of carbs. Steamed potatoes for her; I like polenta myself, or mamaliga if you use the Eastern European phrase. There is no One Right Way to do this.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: lemons

                                          Lemons, please post your MIL's recipe - I would love to see it. Thanks!

                                          1. re: jns7

                                            i agree that the recipe sounds divine, but don't be disappointed if lemons doesn't respond. her post is from 2009.

                                            1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

                                              I'm still around. Not sure if I've got it in a form I can cut and paste. Lemme see.

                                              Okay, found it. This is pretty much unedited, including some notes from my late husband's late ex-wife. Don't worry. Family tree is not covered w/ poison ivy.

                                              1 large cabbage with outside leaves
                                              1 28 oz can tomatoes with juice
                                              1 large onion, chopped
                                              salt and pepper
                                              juice of 2 lemons
                                              1 bay leaf
                                              1-2 whole cloves
                                              1/4 cup brown sugar, dark or light
                                              2 lbs. ground beef
                                              about 3 Tbs. uncooked rice

                                              Set a large pot of water to boil. Core the cabbage, or carefully cut off as many outside leaves as you easily can. Discard any badly torn ones. You will need at least 12, probably more. If you can’t get enough of them off easily, don’t despair; there’s a solution.
                                              When the water boils, add the leaves 3 or 4 at a time, and let them cook until they’re limp. This should take about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from the water, let cool, and with a knife pare down the thick outside stem that goes down the middle. While that batch is cooling, you can cook the next batch.
                                              When you have removed so many outside leaves you can’t get more off without tearing them but you still need more: Put the whole head in the water, let it cook for about 5 minutes. Remove it, letting the water drain back in the pot. Let cool a minute or two, cut the outermost leaves at the stem of the cabbage if you need to, and carefully remove what you need. This maneuver may be repeated more than once. It’s easier to have too many leaves than not enough. You may also patch two leaves on top of each other if you have to. Save the rest of the cabbage and chop it coarsely.

                                              Prepare the filling by crumbling the hamburger into a bowl and seasoning it to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the rice in and mix it all up.

                                              In a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, add the onion, the tomatoes, mushed up or cut up if they’re whole tomatoes with their juice, salt and pepper, the lemon juice, the brown sugar, bay leaf and cloves. Turn the heat on medium and begin to bring it to a boil while you stuff the cabbage leaves.

                                              Put a cabbage leaf on a plate with the thickest part toward you (at 6 o’clock if it were a clock face). Take a handful of the filling, make an oval of it, and place it on the cabbage leaf at the edge nearest you but about an inch from the edge. Fold that near edge up over the meat, and roll it over away from you maybe half a turn. Then turn the sides (9 o’clock and 3 o’clock, so to speak) over the mound of filling and its wrapper, and roll it again. If you need a toothpick to keep it closed, this is when you’d put it in. Place the stuffed cabbage in the cooking tomato sauce, with the “seam”, the last edge of the cabbage leaf, facing down.

                                              Repeat the process, carefully placing each bundle of cabbage into the pan. You will have more than one layer. Chop any remaining cabbage and toss it in when you’ve finished making and placing the bundles. Add very hot or boiling water if there’s not enough liquid to nearly cover everything when you’ve added all the bundles. Drop the heat to low, cover and cook for about 3 hours.

                                              Joan’s notes: I’ve been making this two ro three times every winter as it was one of Einar’s favorite dishes. I always double or triple the recipe using an enormous soup kettle as this freezes beautifully in dinner-size portions and heats up in the microwave easily. It is a lot of bother with the leaves, etc., so I make a lot at one time. I always use winter (big) cabbage. I probably increase the onion, lemon and sugar a little. I know I use more meat per roll than called for by Hannah. That would depend on the budget. Overcooking a little doesn’t hurt a big. Undercooking is disastrous. I’ve never had to add water (which means I use the large cans of tomatoes) but that also means that tightly covered, it makes its own juice. Also, the prakas float, so pushing them down a bit is the only disturbance I create. I can’t shift them as they aren’t toothpicked. I allow them to cool in the juice after the first serving and remove them by hand so they hold together for the freezer portions. Everyone loves the chopped cabbage and onion alongside, so I never worry about having too much.

                                        2. After decades of trying to reproduce my Grandmothers recipe I finally got the flavors right!
                                          This recipe from NY's 2nd Avenue Deli is the best I've made. (Although my Father still feels it needs some sour salt!)


                                          It freezes wonderfully. This is the first thing I make each year when the weather starts to turn away from the heat of summer.