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Sep 3, 2007 11:46 AM

Stuffed Cabbage Recipes??

This is one of those dishes I never learned to make from my Russian Jewish grandmother. The two adjectives are key. Russians do not make dishes as sweet and rich as other nationalities probably because they were poorer and possibly because of personal taste. In any event while my Bubbe's stuffed cabbage was sweet and sour it was definitely not overly sweet and certainly NEVER included raisins as many Polish Jews' recipes do. Also, Jews would only make this dish with chopped beef and possibly some chopped veal but never with pork products because of the rules governing keeping Kosher.

I remember my grandmothers dish as being fairly simple - chopped beef, rice, steamed cabbage for rolling it, and a sweet and sour tomato sauce - nothing heavy - and probably salt and peper. It had a great aroma when cooking and was delicious.

I have a hankering to make this for Rosh Hashanah. So if anyone has a good recipe they'd like to share - please make it as step-by-step as possible - I'd really appreciate it.

In all events a sweet and happy New Year to all!

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  1. KK

    I'm sure you'll get lots of recipes to choose from, but I just wanted to share a technique for rolling.
    First of all, after blanching the leaves, I use a paring knife and trim the thick rib by
    shaving it rather than cutting a V out of the leaf. It gives you a perfect whole leaf for stuffing -- no fall-out. I put the filling in that thicker end and roll towards the leafy end.

    Also, I only fold in one side of the leaf as I'm rolling. When you get to the end, just poke the loose edges into the filling with your finger. When cooking, it swells shut. Nothing falls apart. It's the neatest trick I've found in ages! Been doing it for years.

    You're making me hungry! I have a block party coming up in early October, and I'm thinking stuffed cabbage kept warm in a slow cooker would be the perfect covered dish to bring. Thanks for the reminder.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nemo

      I'll echo nemo's suggestion for not cutting out the rib. This led to many attempts with the ground meat squeezing out of the rolls. In fact, now, I blanch the whole head in gently boiling water a bit longer than when they're ready to give. I do not cut the rib out at all and I roll the meat like a fajita and place seam side down. By braising the stuffed cabbage low and slow for 2 hours or more, every part of the cabbage gets tender. That's definitely the key.
      For the stuffing, I took some hints from Martha Stewart's recipe and sauteed finely chopped garlic and onion in butter. Along with a grated green bell pepper, I add it to the meat and rice. Bind with an egg, add s&p.
      Here's another trick....make a tiny patty and fry it up. Taste for salt level. There's no going back and putting in more salt once you've made them.
      Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
      What is the sweet and sour sauce made with? It sounds great!

      1. re: nemo

        Exactly how I do it, my stuffing and sauce is just rice, ground meat, s/p, grated onion. My sauce: is just tomato sauce, paste, brown sugar and a little cider vinegar, s/p, some fine chopped onion and a bay leaf . But not much else.

      2. She probably used ground beef, rice, cabbage, canned tomatoes, and sour salt.

        Personally, I can't stand it with sour salt -- we always make our stuffed cabbage more Italian, but my Russian Jewish grandmothers both use sour salt to season the sauce. Blech. The rest of the recipe is simple though, and if you like the sweet/sour taste, go for it. ;)

        2 lb ground beef
        2 cups rice
        1 large head cabbage (blanched)

        Tomato sauce of your choice
        -- like I said, to make it Russian, it'd be tomatoes, a wee bit of onions and/or garlic, some sugar, and sour salt.

        -- We do ours as a mild marinara sauce

        Anyway, you combine the uncooked rice and raw beef, roll them up in the cabbage leaves, and let them simmer away in the sauce for about 45 minutes until everything is cooked through. Don't stir it (you'll break up the rolls), but instead give the pot a good "shake" every 5-10 minutes or so.

        L'Shana Tova to you too! :)

        1. Afew ground ginger snaps in the tomatoe sauce is good for flavor and thickening. My Nana used sour salt and raisins.

          1 Reply
          1. re: howboy

            Ginger snaps is a fantastic idea!

          2. I've heard of putting ginger snaps in pot roast as well...but never know the quantity and sometimes I think the crumbs will give it a weird texture. Has anyone actually done this?

            1 Reply
            1. re: KingsKetz

              I use ginger snaps when making sauerbraten. It thickens the sauce and there's no texture problems.


            2. Fabulous Russian Orthodox families who gather during the Fall to make great pots of tomato based stuffed cabbage at church bazaars is a not to be missed event! Each home cook uses her own variation but tomato juice or V8 as their base. Fillings includes pork, lamb and beef with lots of onion, fennel, celery and brown rice.
              Love it!