Last weekend a cold front from Canada had approached and lived up to its promise for snow in the Appalachian Mountains and yet unusual cold weather for us in Atlanta. I wouldn’t dare to say this out loud, but I had been waiting for that. I should mention to my defense, I am not getting excited about cold feet and icy cold wind. Not at all! On the other hand how does wrapping up in a blanket, hot tea and a good book sound to you? Cozy and comforting! That’s what I am talking about. There is just one thing missing to complete the picture, hearty food the way my mum makes it. I had stuffed cabbage on my mind for weeks, indeed I had been eagerly anticipating cooler weather. Stuffed cabbage may not sound that sexy but they look promising on your plate and they are very satisfying in your belly. This recipe takes a little more effort than the usual dinner preparation but it’s just two more steps and its not complicated at all.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 1 green cabbage
- 200 g / 1 cup long-grain rice weighed before cooking
- 450 g / 1 lb. ground beef preferable grass-fed
- 1 medium onion diced
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. paprika powder
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 liter / 1 quart beef broth
- 1 can 170 g / 6 oz. tomato paste
- 4 Tbsp. corn starch
- Cook the rice until molto al dente, still hard in the middle. Drain and set aside.
- Remove the cabbage core with a paring knife. Dig as much of the core out as possible. Doing this makes it easier to remove the leaves afterwards.
- Immerse the whole head of cabbage in big pot with boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes. There should be enough water to completely cover the head of cabbage. Remove from the pot and let drain until cool enough to handle. Remove and discard the outer leaves of the cabbage. Peel off the leaves. You won’t need all of them, depending on the size of your cabbage. You’ll need one leave for each roll. Make a V-shaped cut to remove the hard rib from the base of each cabbage leaf and set aside.
- For the filling: in a large bowl, combine the ground beef, undercooked rice, onion, garlic and seasonings and mix the ingredients with your hands until thoroughly combined.
- Place about a small handful of the filling on each of the leaves, just above the cut where you removed the rib. Roll and tuck the sides in as you roll, create a tight bundle. Place into a large heavy pan, seam side down in a single layer. Pour the broth over the stuffed cabbage (it should be about half way up), cover the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue cooking for 45 to 60 minutes.
- Remove the cabbage rolls from the pan to prepare the sauce. Add tomato paste to the broth and whisk until dissolved. To thicken the sauce, mix corn starch with a some cold water until it’s very smooth. Then, gradually stir the corn starch mixture into the broth until it’s blended. Continue whisking while you bring the mixture to boil, and boil for 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Some brown sugar and oregano wouldn’t hurt either. Serve hot