When Forward food editor Liza Schoenfein made this delicious dish (featured in ), she used leftover cooked rice for the filling, reduced the amount of brown sugar to 3 tablespoons for a less sweet sauce, opted for currants instead of raisins and left out the ginger snaps. The results were fantastic.
1 4–5 pound head green cabbage
2 pounds ground chuck or ground neck and tenderloin
2 eggs, beaten together
½ cup long-grain rice, parboiled for 3 minutes
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 6-ounce onion, grated on coarse side of a box grater
2¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely minced
1 28-ounce can imported Italian tomato pureed
1/3 cup raisins or currants
1/3–½ cup dark brown sugar
3/4–1 teaspoon sour salt (citric acid crystals), or the juice of 1½–2 lemons
1 teaspoon salt
6 ginger snaps, soaked in ½ cup water (optional)
1) To blanch the cabbage, select a pot that will hold the whole head of cabbage almost submerged in water. Fill halfway with water and bring it to a rolling boil.
2) Meanwhile, with a small sharp knife, cut the core out of the cabbage. When the water is boiling, put the cabbage in the water. Using a two-tined kitchen fork, hold the cabbage in one hand and with the other peel off the outside leaf. Return the head to the water for another few seconds, and remove the next loose leaf. Continue until the leaves become too small to easily stuff. You should have 12 to 15 leaves that are big enough to use.
3) Shred the remaining cabbage and amke a layer of it on the bottom of a large, wide casserole pan that will hold the cabbage rolls in one layer.
4) Cut the white central rib out of each cabbage leaf.
5) To make the meat filling, in a large bow, add all the ingredients together and mix very well.
6) Use ¼ to ½ cup of meat mixture for each leaf, depending on the size of the leaf. Place the meat along the uncut green end of the leaf, shaping it into a thick oblong patty. Roll the meat in the leaf, tucking in the sides of the leaf to completely enclose it. If you have a little extra leaf, cut it off. Place the stuffed leaves, seam-side down, packed fairly tightly, on top of the shredded cabbage.
7) To prepare the sauce, in a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, brown sugar, sour salt (or lemon), salt and raisins. Bring to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes.
8) Pour on the prepared sauce. Shake the casserole to encourage the sauce to seep to the bottom. Cover with foil if using a roasting pan or lasagna pan or baking dish.
9) Preheat the oven to 325˚ F. Bake for about 2 hours. If using the ginger snaps, after about an hour of cooking, spoon some of the sauce out of the baking pan and blend with the soaked snaps. Add enough pan sauce to make the ginger mixture liquid enough to blend easily into the remaining pan sauce. Shake the pan to blend.
10) Serve hot. Stuffed cabbage reheats beautifully. Some would say it improves.
From by Aaron Rezny and Jordan Schaps, photographs by Aaron Rezny, 2014 powerHouse Books.