Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage

Although my husband and I married someone who shares the same nationality, ours was a cross-cultural marriage of sorts as North merged with South. Their ways, their food, their behaviors, etc. were quite different from mine. I learned of all kinds of strange and new types of food when I moved into his area, cabbage rolls or stuffed cabbage being one of them. I like to think of cabbage rolls as being a marriage between Polish and Italian food, both with large numbers of people in the Cleveland area. Really, I have no idea where they originated. These cabbage rolls were adapted from a recipe by Michael Symon, one of our favorite local chefs. This recipe makes 6 rolls so double all the ingredients to get 12-13 rolls.

Stuffed Cabbage
1 small-medium head cabbage
500g ground beef/buff
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 can tomato puree/sauce (smaller size)
1 cup water + 1/2 chicken cube
Salt and Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it with a heaping teaspoon. Core the cabbage the best you can without cutting it apart. When the water is boiling, drop the head of cabbage, core up, down into the boiling water. Boil 3-5 minutes or until a leaf will easily peel off when pulled with the tongs. You need 6 whole leaves. Remove the head from the water and set aside. Making sure the meat is not too wet, in a bowl combine it with the chopped onion, white rice, thyme, parsley, and 1/2 cup of tomato puree. Salt with approximately 1/2 teaspoon salt and add pepper to the mixture. In a small pot, heat all the remaining tomato puree with the water and chicken cube. The consistency should be almost as runny as water.

Separate all the additional cabbage leaves from the head and layer them on the bottom of an 11x7 baking dish. To assemble the rolls, open one of the large leaves and fill with 1/3 cup of the meat mixture. Carefully, fold the ends and sides up to form a roll and place seam-side down in a pan. Once all the rolls are assembled, sprinkle any extra meat mixture down into the pan and pour the liquid tomato sauce over the top of each roll. It should fill up the bottom of the dish.

Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 170C/350F degree oven for 1.5 hours. If you want to speed it up, you can brown the beef first and raise the temperature to 190, cooking just about 1 hour.

**Note: This recipe is gluten-free ONLY if you use a chicken stock or cube that is MSG free.**

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