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In the tapestry of world cuisine, few dishes exemplify the universal language of comfort food quite like the Old Fashioned Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. They are, in essence, a culinary testament to human ingenuity, turning humble ingredients into a dish that warms both body and soul.
Stuffed cabbage rolls are steeped in history, tracing their roots across a myriad of cultures. From the Polish ‘golabki’ to the Jewish ‘holishkes’, and the Eastern European ‘sarma’, this dish has traveled across borders, acquiring local flavors, yet maintaining its core identity.
The Art of Making the Rolls:
The magic of Old Fashioned Stuffed Cabbage Rolls lies in the delicate dance of flavors and textures. Tender leaves of cabbage, carefully chosen, blanched, and then lovingly wrapped around a hearty filling of meat, rice, and seasonings. The artistry is not just in the preparation, but in the careful layering and slow-cooking, allowing flavors to meld and the sauce to impart its tangy, sweet notes into the rolls.
A Dish for All Occasions:
While these cabbage rolls can be considered everyday fare, they also hold a special place in holiday feasts and family gatherings. They are a dish of patience and love, often reserved for times when families come together, sitting around tables laden with memories and traditions.
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- 1 cup COOKED long-grain rice (or similar variety)
- 1.5 pounds lean ground beef (or ‘extra lean’)
- 1.5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large egg
- 1 yellow onion , peeled and minced
- ⅓ cup parsley , roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
- 42 ounces tomato sauce , divided (Three 398 millilitre cans or 14 ounce cans (roughly 5 cups). See point 5 below in recipe ‘Notes.’)
- 1 medium head green cabbage (you’ll need about 18 leaves for the rolls and another 8 to 10 or so for the bottom of the dish and over top.)
- ½ cup water (leftover from boiling cabbage)
- fresh dill , chopped (garnish, optional)
- Cook rice per package instructions and lay to one side. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit at this point too.
- In a large bowl combine ground beef with Worcestershire sauce, egg, cooked rice, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, dill, onion powder, red chili flakes (if using) and ½ cup of tomato sauce. Mix until combined.
- In a large point of boiling water, add head of cabbage and boil for 8 to 10 minutes (carefully turn over partway through). Carefully remove. Don’t discard water because you will need to re-boil the cabbage as you start to peel off the leaves and you will need some of the water for your sauce.Note: Don’t fill pot all the way up because the cabbage will displace some of the water. Before boiling water, test how much the water will displace by placing the head of cabbage in the pot.
- Once cabbage is cool enough to handle, carefully remove leaves and cut out core from each leaf. Once you start taking leaves off, you’ll likely need to add the cabbage back to the boiling water (to soften more leaves). Just boil for another bit, let cool enough to handle and continue removing leaves.
- Place some cabbage leaves on the bottom of a deep 9″ x 13″ baking dish or roasting pan. Taking one leaf at a time, distribute about ¼ cup of ground beef mixture on top and wrap up (fold in sides and roll up, placing in prepared dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining ground beef mixture/leaves.
- Combine remaining tomato sauce with ½ cup of cabbage water. Whisk to incorporate everything. Pour over top of cabbage rolls.Note: You could stir in about a tablespoon or so of white or brown sugar into the tomato sauce if you want less of a tomato bite. I like the brightness of tomatoes, so I skip this.
- Top with more cabbage leaves. Cover casserole dish tightly with foil. Cover and bake about 2 hours and 15 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes.
- Once done, be careful removing foil covering as there will be steam. Discard top cabbage leaves. Allow to cool for 20 minutes or so before digging in. Garnish, if desired.
- Enjoy !