If this is peasant food, it’s good to be a peasant.
- Servings: 6.
This popular dish, shared with us by my friend Steve Olderman, is cooked in a large pot or casserole that can be used on top of the stove and that has a tightly fitting lid.
Serves 6, with two pieces per person.
- Ingredients: The Cabbage and the Stuffing
- 1 head of Savoy or green cabbage
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 lb ground beef (ground chuck is best)
- 1/2 cup raw long grained rice
- Ingredients: The Sauce
- 2 lbs. peeled tomatoes or a 28 oz. can of peeled tomatoes (liquefied in a food processor or with a hand blender), or a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 small 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
- 1 cup (or to taste) crushed ginger cookies (Ginger Snaps by Nabisco are a good choice)
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cut the stem out of the cabbage head leaving a deep conical hole. Plunge the whole cabbage head into boiling water. After a few minutes the outer leaves will begin to separate from the head.
- Lift the cabbage out of the water and remove whatever leaves are loose. Lay them out to dry on paper towels and return the cabbage head to the water.
- Keep repeating this process until you have at least 12 good-sized whole leaves. Using a small knife, trim any extra thickness from the stems of the leaves. Retain any smaller or torn leaves and use them to line bottom of a large pot or casserole with a tightly fitted lid (this will keep your rolls from sticking to the bottom of the pot).
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add olive oil, onions, chili powder and allspice and cook until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally to blend spices and coat the onions.
- Add the ground beef and cook until all the pieces have changed color and appear cooked through.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and then mix in the raw rice.
- Working with the saved, large cabbage leaves, place a mound of the meat mixture (about 2 to 3 generous tablespoons, depending on the size of the cabbage leaf) toward the base of each cabbage leaf. The mixture should not be packed too tightly.
- Roll the cabbage leaf up from the base and over the meat mixture. Fold in the sides of the leaf and continue to roll up and away from the base to make an enclosed package. Place the finished rolls close together, seam-side down into the large pot or casserole over the layer of torn and small leaves.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and taste for seasoning.
- Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls. The liquid should just cover the rolls. If you need more liquid, add water.
- Turn heat up to medium-high until sauce starts to bubble, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook over low heat for two hours. Check sauce level periodically to make sure rolls aren't getting dry or burning. Add water if necessary.
Tip: The stuffed cabbage rolls may be in more than one layer if necessary. Packing them close together will help keep them from rising up in the sauce and unfolding during cooking. You may want to weigh them down with an oven-proof plate.
Let the finished rolls cool on top of the stove, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, reheat slowly in a low to moderate oven.
Adapted from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden.