Stuffed cabbage

Stuffed cabbageThere are certain things that can instantly take us back to being little. A smell … a bite of a certain food … it’s the taste of our childhood. One of those dishes is stuffed cabbage for me. We didn’t eat it a lot when I was young, but whenever my mom was making it, I’d walk into the house, and immediately knew what we were having for dinner.

My mom makes her version with a can of tomato sauce poured over the top, but after having a version at a German restaurant made with a creamy tomato sauce, I decided to find a variation and try making it for myself. This recipe comes from, with a few slight modifications. It isn’t my family’s exact recipe, but with one bite, I’m instantly taken back home.

Servings: 6-8

 pounds ground beef
cup white rice
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 large head green cabbage
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 cups chicken stock
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon dried sage
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ cup sour cream

Stuffed cabbageDirections:

  1. Mix together the ground beef, rice, parsley, sage, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while you prepare the cabbage.
  2. Boil a large pot of water. Once boiling, place the head of cabbage into the water and allow to soak for 5-10 minutes, or until the outermost leaves can easily be removed. After removing several softened leaves, you might need to place the head of cabbage back into the water to loosen the inner leaves. Peel off as many of the leaves as you can. Hold each leaf rib-side up, and pare the thick part of the rib to flatten it.
  3. Place a small amount of the meat filling in the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling, overlapping them slightly. Starting at the stem end, roll up the leaf into a compact bundle. Continue the process until all leaves and meat mixture have been used.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  5. To make the sauce, heat a large Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic, and saute until the vegetables are translucent. Add the tomato paste and paprika, and saute for another 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove one cup of the sauce to a separate container. Arrange the stuffed cabbage leaves in a single layer over the remaining sauce in the Dutch Oven. If you have more filling than cabbage leaves to fill, use the rest to make meatballs or small patties, and tuck them in around the rolls. Pour the one cup of reserved sauce over the cabbage rolls.
  7. Transfer the Dutch Oven to the preheated oven and bake until the bundles are cooked through and firm to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Use a large spoon to transfer the cabbage rolls to a platter or storage container. With an immersion blender, puree the sauce together with the sour cream.
  9. Serve the cabbage rolls with the creamy sauce poured over top.

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