Cabbage Rolls

Cabbages these days seem to have a lot of simple sugar in their leaves that make cabbage rolls more enticing. We like to use brown rice for added fiber and nutrients, and Heinz tomato juice for top quality flavor! Extra-lean ground beef makes this a healthy recipe that is low in fat. You can freeze and reheat these cabbage rolls for dinner or lunch. And don't throw out those cabbage trimmings, like the thick veins and inner leaves that are too small to roll! Save them for a Cabbage Soup . . .
1-2 giant Cabbages

1 economy-sized package Extra Lean Ground Beef (4-5 lbs)

1/4 cup flour

2 cups Brown Rice, cooked

4 large Shallots, finely minced or sliced

1 Tbls marjoram

2-4 tbls each: thyme, savory, sage, fresh rosemary, freshly cracked pepper, salt

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I think they're done!

1 large tin Tomato Juice (Heinz preferred, or tomato soup, Heinz or Aylmer)

1 tbls Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Red Wine

2 tsp Cracked Pepper

N.B.: measure 2 cups Brown Rice before cooking
Rolling Cabbage Leaf In a large pouring bowl, whisk together the tomato juice, pepper, vinegar, and red wine. A tablespoon of Demerara sugar will add flavor, but may result in scorching during the baking process. Extra leaves or scraps may be placed over the rolls, on top, to protect them from scorching.

Sauté shallots in peanut oil until transparent. Increase heat and brown the beef. Add 1/4 cup flour and stir well, then stir in the seasonings and remove from heat. Filling may be made the day before and chilled until the cabbage is ready, or frozen until needed.

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In a large glass bowl, steam cabbage in the microwave for half an hour on medium-low and allow to cool before removing outer leaves. Continue to steam until all leaves are cooked enough to be flexible without being mushy.  Remove hard vein before stuffing. Leaves may also be cut into sections if you prefer small cabbage rolls. You can buy two large cabbages, if you wish, and use the best leaves, saving the rest for soup; this way, you can be sure to fill your roaster perfectly and avoid having excess sauce.

If you have a vegetable steamer, a rack that holds veggies above the water, you can place that in a Dutch oven or stock pot with a few inches of simmering water. Remove the core from the cabbage using a boning knife and place the cabbage on the steamer; the hollow left where the core had been fits over the steamer handle. Use silicon oven mitts to protect your hands when you lift the cabbage out of the pot. Remove as many leaves as have been cooked enough to be flexible, then return the cabbage to the pot. Another possibility, if you have time, is to steam the whole cabbage for a couple of hours, then allow to cool over night; at this point, the leaves should be flexible enough to remove, but you may want to steam individual leaves further to increase flexibility.

Julia Child suggests placing the head of cabbage in the freezer to make the leaves flexible. If you have room in your freezer for a large cabbage, this will be a less effortful method.

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In some respects, cabbage leaves seem to have been made for filling--the puckered edges expand to hold the rice and meat! Roll leaves carefully, pressing filling together and tucking in ends.  Place snugly into a large non-stick turkey roaster.  Cover with tomato sauce and roast at 250° F for a few hours, checking regularly for scorching & adding water as needed. The cabbage rolls are done when the leaves are tender and translucent.

Bottom Layer in Roaster
May require an extra giant cabbage for this amount of filling, or use excess filling in Spanish Rice recipe.

Cabbage Rolls are a traditional recipe made at harvest time, so, bulk is the key. . . . This means that we're thinking in terms of mass quantities = party time! Feast! However you want to dish it, you're going to have a lot of food. Fortunately, cabbage rolls freeze well. They fit neatly into Rubbermaid containers along with their tomato sauce. And, if your family enjoys making cabbage rolls, you'll all be primed to eat a mass quantity of them when they're ready! Don't worry, unless you've used a very fatty meat, they're also very healthy. If you have tomatoes in your garden just waiting to be eaten, blanche them to remove the skins, then seed and chop them to use in your tomato sauce. This is probably the most flexible recipe of all time when it comes to the type of tomato ingredients you can use. In a pinch, tomato juice, crushed tomatoes, or tomato paste, or tinned tomato soup will work as a sauce for your rolls.

When you defrost your Cabbage Rolls, you may want to add more sauce. A quick solution is to use a tin of tomato soup, like Heinz or Aylmer. Whisk the soup with 1/4 cup of water; you can add 2 teaspoons of Demerara sugar and a teaspoon of cracked pepper, if you wish, or a splash of Balsamic Vinegar. Heat the sauce in the microwave on high for one minute, then on medium for two minutes. Stir, then pour over your Cabbage Rolls--simple!


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