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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stuffed cabbage the easy way

Have you ever made stuffed cabbage? The original way, passed down by someone Hungarian? I have--you layer cut garlic clovers all over the bottom of dish, then painstakingly peel off cabbage leaves, keeping them intact if possible (no small chore that!) and soften them in boiling water. Then put a Tbsp. or so of a delicious rice, meat and tomato sauce mixture in each leaf, roll into a small package and hope you can lay it seam side down on the garlic. When you have rows of those little bundles, cover the whole thing with tomato sauce. Time? Oh, about three hours. Frustration? Priceless.
When one of my sons was in high school he loved stuffed cabbage and begged for it. I found a way of doing it that is much easier.
Start with a whole head of cabbage. Remove the outer tough leaves; then carefully remove two large leaves, keeping each in one piece. Core the cabbage and discard the core. Then carefully scrape out the interior of the cabbage, leaving about a 1-inch thick shell. Dice the cabbage  you've removed.

Make tomato sauce: Mix
one 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, with liquid
one 6 oz. can tomato pate
1 Tbsp. brown sugar,
1/4 tsp. salt,
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
1/8 tsp. ground allspice

Separately, in a Dutch oven, over high heat, saute:
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 cup diced cabbage

When meat is browned and cabbage tender, stir in 1 cup of the tomato sauce and 1 cup cooked rice.

Fill cabbage shell with beef mixture. Cover the opening with those two reserved cabbage leaves and tie securely with kitchen twine.

Into the same Dutch oven you used for the meat, pour 1/2 cup red wine, scraping to loosen browned bits. Add remaining diced cabbage and tomato sauce. If mixture seems dry, add water a bit at a time. No more than 1/2 cup.

Place stuffed cabbage, stem side down in, in sauce; heat till sauce boils. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cabbage is tender, about an hour and a half.

To serve, place cabbage in a deep platter, discard string. Spoon sauce over cabbage. Let the cabbage collect itself a minute and then cut into wedges to serve. Pass remaining sauce in a gravy boat.  The image above sort of gives the idea, only I put the cabbage open side down--makes it easier to pour the tomato sauce over it and to serve in wedges.

Makes 6 servings. Great hearty one-dish meal for cold days.

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