by Ronnie Fein, Kitchen Vignettes.com
I never ate stuffed cabbage growing up. My grandmother, from Iasi, Romania, cooked Stuffed Grape Leaves. It is very similar to stuffed cabbage, though the leaves have a tart taste compared to cabbage and her sauce was more on the sour side, very lemony. But when I married my husband Ed, whose family heritage is Austrian and Russian, he wanted stuffed cabbage, so I set about trying to get the recipe right. It took years, but I finally created a recipe that appealed not only to Ed, but also my sons-in-law who kept wanting the sauce sweeter than I was used to. A few years ago I got it right, according to everyone in the family and that's saying a lot because we are an opinionated bunch. I make this every year. In fact I double the recipe and put some away in the freezer so we can have a bit at Hanukkah too.
1 large head of cabbage
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, grated
1 large egg
1/4 cup raw white rice
2 tablespoons matzo meal or plain bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 12-ounce bottle chili sauce
1/2 cup raisins
Bring a large pot half filled with water to a boil. Cut out the hard center cabbage core. Separate as many cabbage leaves as possible. Place the cabbage leaves plus the smaller remaining cabbage core in the boiling water. Cook the cabbage leaves for about 3 minutes, or until they wilt. Cook the remaining cabbage core for 3-5 more minutes, or until you can easily remove the leaves. Cut off the hard stem portions from the leaves so that they can be rolled easily. Set the leaves aside.
Mix the ground beef, grated onion, egg, rice, matzo meal and some salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place some of the filling (about 1 heaping tablespoon for the large leaves, less for the smaller ones) in the center of each cabbage leaf. Enclose the meat, folding the cabbage leaf and tucking in the ends. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down in a large, deep baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the brown sugar, lemon juice, chili sauce and raisins and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the stuffed cabbage rolls. Cover and bake for about 2 hours. (To make ahead: cook for one hour, freeze, thaw and cook for another hour.)
Yield: Makes 18-24
Recipes: Meat, Stuffed Cabbage, Kosher