Just about every cuisine in the world has a cabbage roll dish. Meat fillings are traditional in Europe where beef, lamb or pork are used and seasoned with garlic, onion and spices. Grains, such as, rice and barley, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables are often included. Pickled cabbage leaves are used for wrapping, particularly in Southeastern Europe. In Asia, seafood, tofu and shiitake mushrooms may also be used. Chinese cabbage is often used as a wrapping.
Cabbage rolls are a favorite in Polish cuisine and are called, gołąbki, which literally means “little pigeons.” My mother-in-law was of Polish heritage and liked to make this dish in the traditional way. I have tried many recipes for cabbage rolls but they have not always been to my liking. This recipe comes about with my adjusting and readjusting the ingredients until I got to this version. Now, my husband and I really like this dish. Hope you do, also.
1 large head of cabbage
2 garlic cloves, minced
Half a sweet onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili) flakes
One 26 – 28 ounce container chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
Half a sweet onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 large egg, beaten to blend
½ cup dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the cabbage:
With a sharp knife remove some of the core and gently remove eight large leaves from the head. You may have to cut away some of the core in stages to remove the leaves without tearing them.
Reserve remaining cabbage for another use.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place the cabbage leaves in the boiling water and cook until pliable, about 5 minutes. Drain and place on a kitchen towel.
Using a paring knife, cut a narrow V-shape into the base of each leaf on either side of the rib in order to remove the thickest part of rib (this will make the leaves easier to roll).
For the sauce
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the red pepper, tomatoes, brown sugar and vinegar; season generously with salt and black pepper.
Reduce heat and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened slightly, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and set aside.
For the meat filling
In a large bowl combine all the filling ingredients and season with black pepper. Mix gently with clean hands until incorporated; set filling aside.
To assemble the cabbage rolls:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Divide the meat filling into 8 equal portions.
Shape the filling into a log about 3″ long and 1″ wide. Starting at the base where you cut the V, place a portion of the filling meat and fold in the sides.
Roll like a burrito into a tight cylinder. Repeat until you’ve rolled the cabbage leaves.
Oil a 13 x 9″ baking pan. Place the cabbage rolls in the baking dish in rows side-by-side.
Top with the braising sauce; Cover with foil and bake the rolls until tender, about, 1½ hours.
Set aside the dish, covered, to rest while you cook the asparagus.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
This recipe is easily multiplied (each pound of uncooked potatoes yields about 2 cups mashed potatoes).
1 pound Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
Cold water, for cooking, enough to cover plus 1-inch
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cream
3 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Scrub the potatoes well and peel them. Cut potatoes into 1 inch pieces place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water, then stir in the salt.
Cover and bring to a boil on high, then reduce the heat to maintain a low boil until the potatoes are tender and a knife moves easily through the center, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes.
In a small pan, gently melt the butter, cream and salt to taste and mix together, keep warm.
Return the drained potatoes to the cooking pot, turn the heat to medium and let the excess water cook off for a minute or two, shaking the pan occasionally.
Mash the potatoes until smooth. With a spatula, slowly turn the hot cream-butter-salt mixture into the potatoes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve immediately.
Note: the potatoes can be prepared earlier and reheated in a casserole dish in the oven along with other dishes you are cooking.
Oven Roasted Asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Break off the woody bottoms of the asparagus and wash in cold water.
Arrange trimmed asparagus in 13 X 9 inch dish and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes.