Don't you just hate when you slave all day on a special dish and your spouse comes downstairs to report smelling "skunk?" What the heck? "That's not skunk, it's your dinner."
The scent of cabbage cooking, while not exactly kitchen potpourri, is far from skunk. Leave it to me to have two husbands (not concurrently) who don't like cooked cabbage. The first time around I agreed to never cook cabbage again. This time, I'll cook cabbage at two o'clock in morning in the master bedroom if I choose.
I'm sure that once Michael tastes these stuffed cabbage leaves, he'll retract the skunk comment. They are delicious.
I used Ina Garten's recipe as a jumping off point, putting my twist on it based on what I had on hand. I was a little nervous when I saw that Ina's recipe calls for raisins, vinegar and brown sugar. I decided to trust Ina and include those ingredients in my adaptation of her recipe. I really like it. The sauce has a unique sweetness as well as a nice tangy note. I would make this again. Given the number of cabbages I am getting in my CSA winter vegetable boxes, I am happy to add this recipe to my collection.
- For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion (finely diced)
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup golden balsamic or red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup red wine (omit if using red wine vinegar)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the filling:
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
- ¼ cup finely diced yellow onion
- ¼ cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head green cabbage (including outer leaves)
- For the sauce:
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the diced onions, reserving ¼ cup for the filling. Cook over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent. Add the canned tomatoes, vinegar, wine, brown sugar, raisins, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set the sauce aside.
- To remove the cabbage leaves:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the core of the cabbage with a paring knife. Immerse the head of cabbage in the boiling water, peeling off each leaf with tongs as soon as it s flexible. Set the leaves aside on paper towels. I used eight large leaves of cabbage. Remove the head of cabbage from the water and refrigerate for another use.
- For the filling:
- To make the filling combine the ground chuck, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, rice, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add ½ cup of the sauce to the meat mixture and mix lightly with a fork.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- To assemble the stuffed leaves, place ½ cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Thin down the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a small paring knife. Place ⅓ cup of filling near the rib edge of each leaf. Tuck the sides in fold the cabbage over the filling. Place half the cabbage rolls, seam sides down, over the sauce in the bottom of the dish. Continue assembling until all the cabbage rolls are in the pot. I ended up with eight. Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with the lid and bake for 1 hour until the meat is cooked. Baste with the sauce from the bottom of the pot and serve piping hot.