Cabbage Rolls – For Ambitious Afternoons

Last week was an amazing week, at least in terms of motivation.  Somehow, after months of no motivation & not wanting to do anything, last week I was suddenly very ambitious.

Monday & Tuesday nights were spent editing…  a guidebook for the military center I used to work for.  Now, I know to many of you this sounds like work, but not for me – I love this stuff.  I might have missed my calling… perhaps I should have been an editor!  I have to admit that it was nice to challenge my brain for a change!  Wednesday night was spent editing photos & getting my travel photos ready for my post on Amsterdam.

Thursday I really surprised myself.  I came home from work & proceeded to do some major house cleaning…. bathrooms, vacuuming & washing floors. (I seriously have no idea where I found all that motivation!)  Friday night I put the finishing touches on my post about Amsterdam… & Saturday….

Well, Saturday, I decided to attempt to make cabbage rolls.  I have never made them before in my life.  For some reason I’d been thinking about cabbage rolls last week (I haven’t even eaten them in ages so I’m not really sure why I was thinking of them) & decided I would try them out.  I googled a recipe (I’m not sure why I did this as I probably have a dozen cookbooks with a cabbage roll recipe) & got to work.  For anyone else wanting to attempt this recipe… make sure you have time!!  Lots of it.  This dinner was all afternoon in the making!  I will say, however, the time was well worth it as they turned out to be quite yummy.  If you were expecting as many photos here as my Amsterdam post, I’m afraid you’re out of luck!  I think my husband was beginning to think I was a bit crazy, taking photos of everything!  Besides, cabbage is not an overly interesting subject!

Cabbage Rolls (a Canadian Living Recipe)

What You Need:
2 heads savoy cabbages or green cabbages, each 2lb (I have no idea how big mine were)
2 tbsp butter
2 large white onions, sliced
1/4 tsp caraway seeds, crushed (this proved difficult to do)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 cans (28oz each) crushed tomatoes

Filling:
2 tbsp butter
3 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup long-grain rice (I used brown rice)
1-1/4 cups sodium reduced chicken stock
1-1/2lb lean ground pork or beef (again I have no much I actually used – one package)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (I forgot to buy this so I did without)
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (also forgot this)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

How To Make:
Core cabbages (I had to guess about what the recipe meant by this exactly… see photo below for my best guess!).DSC_0703 In large pot of boiling salted water, blanch cabbages, 1 at a time, for 5 to 8 (8 worked well for me) minutes or until leaves are softened. Removed & chill under cold water (I apparently skipped this step – but I think the only purpose is so that you can touch the cabbage without burning your fingers).

Working from the core end (I found the opposite worked better), carefully pull 12 leaves off each cabbage, returning cabbage to boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes when leaves become difficult to remove. Drain leaves on tea towels; cut out coarse veins. Set leaves aside. Reserve enough leaves from remaining cabbage to cover cabbage rolls in pan.DSC_0712In large shallow Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat; saute onions, caraway seeds, salt & pepper for about 10 minutes or until onions are golden. Add sugar; cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes & bring to a boil; reduce heat & simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened (my crushed tomatoes were very thick so it didn’t need much simmering). Set aside.

Filling:
In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; cook onions, garlic, thyme & cayenne pepper, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Add rice; cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender & liquid is absorbed (since I used brown rice this step took about twice as long). Transfer to large bowl; let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in pork, parsley, dill, egg, salt & pepper.

Spread 1 cup of the tomato mixture in 24-cup roasting pan or Dutch oven.

Spoon scant 1/4 cup of filling onto center of each of the 24 reserved leaves; fold 1 end & sides over filling & roll up (the instructions make this sound very simple – it is not quite so simple). DSC_0715Arrange half, seam side down, in pan; top with half of the remaining tomato mixture. Arrange remaining rolls on top; pour remaining tomato mixture over top. Top with reserved cabbage leaves to prevent scorching.

Cover & bake in 350F oven for about 2 hours or until tender.
DSC_0719So, there you have it… cabbage rolls, for days with lots of ambition. As it happened, the same weekend I also made meatloaf, banana chocolate chip muffins & squash, sweet potato & apple soup so stay tuned for more recipes!

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