Stuffed Cabbage, Pigs in a Blanket, Gumki. These are just a few of the names people give to one of the best comfort foods around. When I was a kid and my Mom made these, I hated the cabbage, but loved the meat. Now that I’m grown, I love the mixed favor of both. Making these also makes me think about my Mom and Grandma, since I make them the way my Mom did, in my Grandma’s roaster. I know they’d be proud.
It’s a hot and humid day here in Michigan, but I had a large head of cabbage from my visit to the Eastern Market in Detroit this past weekend, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. So I pulled out my grandma’s roaster and cleaned it up, then I got to work. Making stuffed cabbage isn’t hard, but there are a few steps. There are hundred’s of recipes and variations to making these, but this is my recipe and I’d like to share it with you.
1 large head of cabbage
2 lbs of ground beef (I used chuck)
2/3 cup of uncooked white rice
1 medium onion chopped
splash of milk
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 14oz cans of tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups of water
Start by mixing the meat mixture which is the beef, onions, rice, eggs, milk, salt, pepper. Mix together with your hands and then set aside.
Put a large pot of water on the stove and fill the bottom with water, maybe an inch or so deep. Allow water to come to a boil. In the meantime, cut around the core of the cabbage head. You don’t really have to remove the core, just cut into it to separate the core from the leaves. Carefully start to remove the leaves for the head of cabbage. Yes, some of the leaves will tear a little, but they are still useable. I throw away the first couple of leaves, because they are usually not very nice. Once you get about 8-10 leaves removed, place them in the boiling water and cover. Steam for about 3-4 minutes until leaves soften a bit. This makes wrapping much easier. Once they have softened, remove with tongs and put another batch in. This recipe will make about 20 rolls, so I usually do 2 batches of leaves. At this point prepare your baking pan by pouring 1 can of tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups of water into the bottom (no need to mix up). This prevents the meat from sticking and provides enough water to soften the rice inside while roasting.
You can now start to roll your cabbage. Place on cabbage leaf on a cutting board, curling side up. Grab a handful of meat (maybe a half of cup and roll into a log shape. Try not to condense the meat too much, otherwise the rolls will be dense. I like them to be very tender. Then wrap up the meat in the cabbage by folding in the top and sides, and then rolling down to the end of the cabbage leaf. Place open end down in roasting pan. Once you have filled the pan, pour the other can of tomato sauce over the top. At this point it should look like this:
Turn roaster on to 300 degrees and place cover on pan. Allow to slow roast for around 3 hours. Check every hour. I usually turn down my roaster to 275 degrees after about one hour and will also check once or twice to make sure the bottom of the pan is not drying out. If it does look dry, try adding about a cup more of water. Just don’t get too much water or they will lose flavor. Bottom should look moist, but not like the cabbage rolls are floating in it.
I place my roaster in the garage on hot days. This keeps the heat and the smell out of the house. The stuffed cabbage will smell delicious while baking, it’s the next day when you will glad you did this. This is what mine looked like at about 1 1/2 hours.
Isn’t Grannies roaster cute?Stuffed cabbage is fantastic served with mashed potatoes, but today I am going to try making zucchini fritters with them, since my husband is watching his carbs. I have a new recipe from Family Circle I’ll be trying. Here’s a link if you are interested: Zucchini Fritters
You will know the stuffed cabbage is done when you can see the rice popping out like in the picture below.
I was impressed with the zucchini fritters. It was a nice substitute for potato pancakes, which I sometimes make with these too. I didn’t end up using the Greek yogurt and lime sauce with the fritters, instead I just used light sour cream. The lime just didn’t sound good with the cabbage.
Hope you can give these a try one day. The fall is a great time to make these too, when the days are cooler. Thanks for stopping by. I loved sharing this recipe with you!
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