Thursday, January 15, 2009

Best Cabbage Rolls Ever

This rarely happens to me: I tried a new recipe for something I've never attempted to make before and the results were fabulous. Simply fabulous.

These are like no cabbage rolls I have ever tasted. The sauce is deliciously sweet and sour. The difference is the unexpected ingredients: carrot, raisins, wine and lemon juice. Yum! I will never try another cabbage roll recipe.

The first time I made this recipe, I didn't use savoy cabbage. The recipe turned out OK, but on my second attempt, I discovered savoy cabbage is far easier to work with and fits in my Dutch oven better. It's the kind with the crinkly leaves. I use the same pot to soften the leaves as I do to cook the cabbage rolls, my Dutch oven.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it cooks in only one-and-a-half hours. I polled my family members about their recipes and it seems they cook them for two to three hours in the oven. This recipe also calls for eight gingersnaps and 2 chunks of sour salt in the sauce, but I didn't add any. I couldn't imagine having cookie bits in the sauce and I don't own any sour salt (pickling salt) so I substituted regular table salt. Also, I used red wine instead of white, because that's what I had open.


For the Rolls:
1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup white rice
1/2 cup water
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 head savoy cabbage
salt and pepper

For the Sauce:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Juice of a large lemon
Salt to taste
1 cup vegetable juice, or water


  1. Bring a big pot of water to boil with 1 1/2 tbsp of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, rice, water, carrot, onion, and garlic. (I use my electric mixer.)
  3. Cut out the stem of the cabbage. Add the cabbage to boiling water, stem side down, and boil until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the cabbage under cold water to cool it off.
  4. Place an 1-inch thick chunk of the meat stuffing in the hollow of the leaf. Wrap it like a burrito. Wrap it loosely, as the rice will expand.
  5. Place each roll into the bottom of dutch oven, stacking them as needed.
  6. In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions and brown.
  7. Add the wine and simmer for five minutes on low heat.
  8. Add the tomatoes, water, raisins, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  9. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls in the Dutch oven. Add vegetable juice until the rolls are submerged in liquid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Shake the pan every 30 minutes to prevent sticking.
Inspiration: Joy of Cooking

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