I never had much luck with cabbage rolls. The cabbage tears and they fall apart. Nothing spectacular about them. But I have fond memories of them from my childhood and had been craving some. I took the same steps I normally do, reading a bunch of recipes on the web. I discovered that they are originally an eastern European dish so I ended up leaning towards a Polish recipe and made pierogi to go with it. That was a two night experiment. I first cooked them on top of the cabbage rolls, in the bubbling tomato sauce. They came out a lot better the next night when I sautéed them in butter.
It turns out that savoy cabbage is sturdier than plain green cabbage and it looks better. Instead of removing the leaves and cooking them, I put the whole cabbage in a pot of water after I had removed the main part of the core.
As the leaves were done, after about three minutes the started peeling off of the head. As they did I ran cold water over them and put them on a towel to drain.
When all the leaves were harvested, I cut the thick part if the vein out and began to roll them. One change I made to the filling that made a big difference to me was I used barley instead of rice.
I put the cabbage rolls in my deep cast iron skillet and made the sauce. I poured the sauce over and cooked on the stove top for about 1 hour. Recipe below.
1 medium head cabbage
1-1/2 cups chopped onion, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup cooked barley
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound lean ground beef (90%)
1/4 pound bulk Italian sausage
1/2 cup V8 juice
1. In a Dutch oven, cook cabbage in boiling water for 10 minutes or until outer leaves are tender; drain. Rinse in cold water; drain. Remove eight large outer leaves (refrigerate remaining cabbage for another use); set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, saute’ 1 cup onion in butter until tender. Add the tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the rice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and remaining onion and salt. Crumble beef and sausage over mixture and mix well.
4. Remove thick vein from cabbage leaves for easier rolling. Place about 1/2 cup meat mixture on each leaf; fold in sides. Starting at an unfolded edge, roll up leaf to completely enclose filling. Place seam side down in a skillet. Top with the sauce.
5. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour. Add V8 juice and cook for another 20 min.
Below is a link to the pierogi recipe I started with. I had no processed cheese spread so I added more grated cheese. I also added a half of a finely diced and sautéed onion. I tried doing it just like it says in the recipe but it was taking way to long. I broke out the pasta roller and made them like I was making ravioli. I halved the recipe. As I said above on the first night I just put them on top of the sauce for the last 10 min. They weren’t as good as the second night where I just sautéed them in butter. They were really good that way. If I didn’t already have leftover 8 cheese mac and cheese I would make some for tonight.