Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

CSA - Cabbage Rolls 

Used my CSA cabbage to create a very old classic dish - Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. My mom use to make these because my grandma use to make them. My grandmother was of German decent from Russia. The story behind the Germans that lived in Russia is interesting and I have learned just a bit from doing a small amount of genealogy. When researching the heritage of Cabbage Rolls, I found many Hungarian and Polish recipes, but also saw a note on Germans in Russia that made Halubtsi or Cabbage Rolls. We learned very little about our heritage from my grandmother because she did not believe talking about the past.  "History, who wants to hear it?  It already happened!" Grandma would say.  No one in the family even knew she lived in Russia until maybe the mid 80's, she never told anyone, she just said she was German. The only connection we have to her German/Russian heritage is in the few classic German dishes she occasionally prepared. 

I never realized how much work goes into making this dish. I think I used every pot and pan in the house! It looked like a man was cooking in my kitchen. The results were great. A big hit with the family, both boys loved it. It takes a bit of time, but a great family dinner with a little family history, even if Grandma never told it to us.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Recipe Source:  American Harvest Cook Book by The American Academy of Chefs
I prepared a variation of the recipe in this book by Thomas A. Berg, CEC, AAC, Chef/Owner of Thomas Berg Catering, Minneapolis, MN


3 Tablespoons margarine
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
One 35oz can peeled tomoatoes in juice
2 cups tomato sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 small onion, grated
3 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup white rice
2 tablespoons ketchup
salt and pepper
8 oz pitted prunes chopped
1/2 cup dark raisins
Juice of 1 lemon

Fill large pot 2/3 full of water.  Bring to a boil and salt.

To prepare sauce, heat the margarine (I used olive oil), in medium saucepan set over medium heat.  Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the brown sugar and tomoates, crushing them with your fingers as you add them to the pan with their juices. Add tomato sauce and lemon juice. Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a large, nonreactive baking dish and set aside.

While the sauce cooks, prepare the cabbage.  Using a parking knife, cut a cone-shaped incision in the bottom of the cabbage to remove the core.  Place the cored cabbage in the boiling water, reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes.  Drain, cover with cold water and drain again.  When cool enough to handle, peel off the leaves whole.  You should have 16-20 good leaves.  Set aside.

To prepare filling, combine ground meat with grated onion, eggs, rice and ketchup; season with salt and pepper.  Mix by hand, adding 1/2 cup of water if necessary, until mixture is moist but still thick.

Place about 1/4 cup of filling in the center of each leaf.  Fold the bottom of the leave over the filling, fold in sides, then roll to enclose securely.  (I use toothpicks to help secure too).  Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves till complete.  Arrange seam side down, in baking dish.  Sprinkle with prunes and raisins then spoon the tomato sauce over the top.  Cover the baking dish and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Post-boiling.  Peeling the leaves off individually.  Some rip, but they all came off pretty well.  There was no Cabbage Patch baby inside. Don't you always think there will be?  He he.

I used more rice in the filling than this recipe suggested.  I also added some paprika and a few other spices.  My mom always secured the rolls with toothpicks.  It was always a tricky dish to eat because you had to look out for the toothpicks. 

Topped with piping hot sauce!  I omitted the prunes and raisins as I just didn't have any, but they sound really good.  Will definitely add them next time I make this.

Bubbling hot out of the oven.  The sauce has a rich, deep flavor very different than a classic Italian red sauce.  It was delicious!  Just like Mom and Grandma use to make.


  1. I love stuffed cabbage! Paula doesn't like cabbage, so it's doubtful she'll make them anytime soon. Maybe you can freeze a couple and ship them down to me in dry ice!

  2. Bob - I'll make you cabbage next time you visit! Bill thinks he doesn't like it either, but he liked this and I make him eat it every St. Patty's Day. You know they are mostly Irish, they should enjoy some cabbage!