Monday, December 8, 2008

Cabbage Rolls

I found a great cookbook recently: Bake Until Bubbly. It's a book of casserole recipes with nary a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup to be found. All of these casseroles are from-scratch, which is very exciting to someone who loves the ease of a one-dish meal but would rather not use industrial "food" products in homecooked meals.

Yesterday I had several heads of savoy cabbage I wanted to use up. The book contains three recipes for cabbage rolls (one each from Finland, Poland, and Croatia) so I modified the Polish recipe. The original recipe says it will serve six, but I think that's wildly conservative. The recipe calls for three pounds of meat, for gosh' sake! I ended up with two 13x9 pans of rolls, so I froze one.

Both husband and son gave these the thumbs up. They were a lot of work, but I think next time I'll probably make four smaller pans containing one meal's worth each out of this recipe, so for me that's worth the time and multiple dirty pots and bowls.

Cabbage Rolls
makes 2 13x9 pans, 6 servings each
or 4 8x8 pans, 3 servings each

3 pounds of cabbage
salt, various uses
6 T butter, divided use
3/4 c rice
1/4 pound bacon, diced fine
2 med onions, cut into 1/4" dice
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 t ground pepper
1/2 t ground celery seed
1/4 t marjoram
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 c ketchup
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 c water
1 c tomato puree
1 T brown sugar

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil in a small saucepan with a cover. Preheat oven to 325. Oil two 13x9 or four 8x8 pans.

Core cabbages and remove outer leaves. Drop into large pot of water for 10 minutes, peeling away leaves with a tongs if possible as they loosen. Drain leaves on paper towels. After ten minutes, remove remainder of heads and drain, then peel off leaves carefully and drain. Trim the large thick outer vein to make leaves more flexible.

Add rice to saucepan along with 1/2 t salt and 1 t butter. Stir, return to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a skillet, saute bacon until crisp. Add onion and saute until transparent. Transfer to a large bowl. Add rice, beef, pork, chicken, pepper, celery seed, marjoram, nutmeg, ketchup, Worcestershire, and 1 t salt. Mix well.

Arrange cabbage leaf flat on cutting board with stem end closest to you. Place 2 - 4 T stuffing (depending on the size of the leaf) onto the center of the end of the leaf, roll once, fold in ends, and continue to roll into a neat package. Place seam side down in baking casserole, arranging the rolls into a bricklike pattern so that empty spaces are filled neatly.

(If you'd like to freeze one of the pans, press plastic wrap down over rolls, cover with aluminum foil, and freeze for up to two months. Thaw completely before continuing.)

In a bowl, mix water, tomato puree, and brown sugar. Pour evenly over cabbage rolls. Dot with remaining butter. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

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