AUGUST’S CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: STUFFED CABBAGE

STUFFED CABBAGE – GERMAN STYLE

There are many recipes for stuffed cabbage.  This is the Rudy-version.  This recipe came from my mother-in-law, Lillian Weil, and probably came from a previous generation.  The details of the recipe were never written down and so what is here is “best recollection” plus the result of some experimentation.  Since everyone likes it, apparently the experimentation worked!  It makes enough for at least 10 servings and I usually split it up into ½ gallon plastic containers and freeze the ones that will not be immediately eaten.

No quantity in this recipe is exact; all should be played with to get the taste that you like.  More rice?  More meat?  More sauce? Go for it!

1               Cabbage (medium size)

1½ lbs    85% Hamburger.  Don’t use too lean, it loses taste

1             Large onion, diced

¾ cup     Spaghetti sauce (has more flavor than plain tomato  sauce)

¾ cup     Rice.  Not Minute Rice. Measure after cooking.

¾ cup     Spaghetti sauce (this is not an error)

24 oz      Stewed tomatoes, diced (could use more; like 2 large cans)

2 cans     Sauerkraut, large cans or 4 medium cans.  DO NOT DRAIN.

1 cup      Spaghetti sauce  (this is not an error either)

1½ Tbs   Brown sugar

1½ Tbs   Granulated sugar

Cut the center out of the cabbage and pull off some of the outer leaves if they are not crisp. Boil the cabbage at least 60 minutes (longer if really large) until the leaves pull off fairly easily.  But don’t cook so long that it is mushy.  Let it cool by soaking in cold water. Note:  if it is not cooked enough, the leaves break when you try to wrap the meat.

  1. Cook the rice.
  2. Sauté the onions. Slightly under-cook.
  3. Mix the raw hamburger, rice, onions and ¾ cup of the sauce. This will become the filling of the cabbage
  4. Gently remove the leaves from the cabbage. It will not be easy to do, and some of the leaves are very large.  You may have to recut the hole in the cabbage.
  5. Combine the sauerkraut, another ¾ cup of the sauce, sugars, and stewed tomatoes in the bottom of a large pot. Mix together.  This will provide the base to the stuffed leaves.
  6. Put the meat mix into the leaves, fold over, and place on top of the sauerkraut mixture, open side down. The amount you use depends on the size of the leaf.  As you make them, lay them on top of the sauerkraut base.
  7. Pour the last cup of sauce on top of the filled leaves, along with leftover cabbage.
  8. Here is where you have two options, and my preference is to use the oven. (1) Bring the pot SLOWLY to a boil (be careful; you may have to add some water so that it doesn’t burn), and then let it simmer for 45 minutes.  (2) Alternatively, it can be put in the oven, covered, at 350o to 375o for about an hour.  The problem with the first option is that it is really easy to burn the bottom of the pan.
  9. This makes a lot. It can be separated and frozen, even in plastic bags.
  10. OPTIONAL: cook up another pound of hamburger and add sauce. This can be added to the top of the cabbage mixture to give it even more protein.
  11. NOTE: everything is cooked before being put in the oven, so the baking period is really for everything to mix together.

Enjoy!

“Chef’s Corner” feature writer, John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)