Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Stuffed cabbage shows up at nearly every eastern European family occasion, at least it does on the Hungarian/German side of my family. Perfect for feeding a crowd these meat and rice stuffed cabbage rolls can be made ahead, they are even better the next day. They can be served hot or at room temperature making them a perfect choice for pot-lucks, picnics and buffets.
Versions of stuffed cabbage rolls show up in many European cuisines. Served with a mountain of mashed potatoes, sliced cucumbers in sour cream with dill and a loaf of good rye bread this is the version my family has grown up with.
1 large cabbage (regular or savoy)
2 pounds lean ground beef (or a mixture of ground pork and beef)
3 large onions
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 cup rice cooked in 2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cans tomato soup
2 cups vegetable juice (V8) or tomato juice
1 cup chicken or beef broth (boullion cubes are fine here)
Place the cabbage in the freezer in a plastic bag and leave for 12 hours or overnight. Remove and leave to thaw at room temperature. The leaves will be soft and easy to use without having to boil them.
In a small saucepan cook the rice in 2 cups of broth and set aside to cool. The rice can be made the day ahead and kept chilled in the refrigerator overnight.
Finley dice 2 of the onions and saute them slowly until soft and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, break apart the ground beef. Add the salt, pepper, eggs, sauteed onions and the rice and using your hands, mix together until combined.
Remove the leaves from the cabbage, cutting away the tough part closest to the core.
Spray a large casserole or two small casserole dishes with deep sides with cooking spray. Slice the remaining onion and place in the bottom of the baking pan along with the peeled garlic cloves.
Put about a 1/3 to 1/2 cup meat mixture at the bottom of the leaf and roll up. The meat amount varies depending on the size of the leaf. Leftover leaves can be thinly sliced and placed on the bottom of the baking pan with the sliced onions and garlic. Repeat until all the meat is used up and place on top of the sliced onions in the baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl combine the tomato soup, juice and broth, pour evenly over the cabbage rolls. Cover and bake the cabbage rolls at 325 for two hours. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Optional suggestion: Bury a few pieces of smoked sausage or kielbasa in with the cabbage rolls to bake alongside the rolls.