Winter is upon us here in the northeast U.S. and that means hunkering down with hearty, comforting meals, including this stuffed cabbage. All the work is done upfront, and then you just sit back and wait for the oven to do its thing. You don’t even need to boil the cabbage first in order to remove the leaves. A really easy trick to separate leaves is to put the whole head of cabbage in the freezer overnight.
The next day, when you want to make the recipe, remove the inner core with a knife.
The leaves will peel off easily. Savoy cabbage is my favorite, but ordinary green cabbage is good too in this recipe.
I like to make a stuffing using three kinds of ground meat – beef, pork and veal. I also like to use brown rice but feel free to use white rice if you prefer – or even farro. Make sure the rice is cooked and cooled before adding it to the meats. Mix all the ingredients well.
Cut out the tough center rib of the cabbage and place some of the stuffing inside the leaf, tucking the excess all around.
Place the rolls seam-side down in an oven-proof casserole that’s been spread with some tomato sauce.
Spoon more sauce over the cabbage rolls, along with a sprinkling of pecorino cheese.
Bake for one hour, or until the cabbage rolls are tender. The sauce may be too liquidy because the cabbage releases a lot of water. If that happens, remove the rolls from the pan and reduce the liquid in a saucepan. Alternately, if you add more tomato sauce and mix it well with the more-liquidy sauce in the pan, that should thicken it too.
I hope 2022 brings you lots of good food, good health and good adventures.
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- 1 large head of cabbage
- 1½ pounds -2 pounds ground meat (I like to use a combination of beef, veal and pork)
- ½ cup of rice, cooked (I used brown rice, but any kind of rice would work fine)
- ¼ cup minced onion
- one clove minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt, pepper to taste
- ¼ cup minced parsley
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ¾ cup pecorino cheese, grated, with aa little reserved for sprinkling on the top
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- homemade tomato sauce (about 2 cups)
- Place the cabbage in the freezer overnight.
- It will be easy to peel the leaves off without having to boil them first.
- Peel off the leaves and remove the center, hard rib and discard it (or use it for soup)
- Boil the ½ cup rice in water as per instructions. (It takes longer and more water to cook brown rice)
- Let the rice cool.
- Mix the ground meats, the cooled rice, the egg, the cheeses, the parsley and the seasonings.
- Place a small amount of stuffing in the center of each cabbage leaf, and roll the leaf around the filling.
- Spread a casserole with some tomato sauce, and place the cabbage rolls into it, seam side down.
- Fill the casserole completely with the rolls, then cover with tomato sauce, a sprinkling of pecorino cheese.
- Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees, uncovered, then remove the cover and bake another ten minutes.
- This will allow some of the liquid from the cabbage to evaporate.
- If the sauce is still too liquid, remove the cabbage rolls from the casserole and reduce the sauce over a burner until thickened.
- However, sometimes just stirring the liuqidy part of the sauce with the thicker part tin the pan, after you remove the cabbage rolls, will accomplish the same thing.