Cabbage rolls

This post isn’t going to be for everyone. Cabbage rolls are, in my mind, an acquired taste.  I grew up hating cabbage rolls, which baffled my father. He is the cabbage roll king. I think he could probably eat an entire cabbage worth of rolls.  
Once I got into high school, I started coming around to the idea of cabbage rolls. My mother convinced me to at least try the filling. Of course I still refused to eat the cabbage, so would carefully undo all of my mother’s hard work, making sure that not an ounce of cabbage would be accidentally consumed. 
Luckily at some point from high school until now, I became lazy with cabbage rolls and decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of removing the cabbage. Now I love them, cabbage and all, and have recently started making them.  This weekend I made a batch of about 30, and actually did a pretty decent job of taking step by step pictures.
And for those wanting to print the recipe or watch a video of how to roll the cabbage rolls, I’ve made a video. Crazy!  It was one of my first videos. Although I was a bit tongue tied at times and a wee bit awkward, I still wanted to share it.  The rolling technique for the cabbage rolls is tricky and it really helps to see how someone else does it.  You can view it here.

Cabbage Rolls
(yields 30 rolls)
For the stuffing
2 heads cabbage
2 pounds lean ground beef (or 1 pound beef, 1 pound pork)
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
For the sauce
32 ounces tomato soup
3 cups water
1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
6 cloves garlic mashed
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
Juice from one large lemon
Fill a large soup pan with water. Bring to a boil. While water is coming to a boil, core the cabbage. Using a sharp knife cut a circle around the core to remove it. I always have difficulty removing the core, so be careful and use a sharp knife. 

Once water is boiling, submerge cabbage, core side down. 

After about two minutes, start removing the leaves of cabbage. Use a fork and tongs to help remove them.  Set them aside on a separate plate. Discard water after all the leaves have been removed.
In a large bowl combine meat, rice, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. 

Stir to combine.

Next you want to fill the rolls. Using a small pairing knife, thin the vein in the cabbage. You will want to do this for every cabbage leaf.  This will make it much easier to roll. Place about 1/2 cup worth of filling at the base of the leaf, then fold the top edges over the filling and roll (this is the part where watching the video may help). Repeat the process until you have used all of the filling.

Line the bottom of a dutch oven with the extra cabbage pieces, then place rolls on top of the cabbage pieces. This will help keep the rolls from burning.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce. Once combined, pour sauce over the rolls. Cover the dutch oven, bring the rolls to a boil, then let simmer for about an hour and a half. The rolls will absorb quite a bit of the sauce.

Remove from dutch oven and serve.

Since the recipe yields quite a few rolls, you have two options. You can choose to cook all the rolls in the tomato sauce and freeze any leftovers. Or, you can freeze the rolls uncooked. Either way works well.  I opted to cook them all and freeze them. That way I can just pull them out of the freezer and warm them up whenever I am looking for a quick and hearty supper.

Have you ever had a cabbage roll before?  They are very popular in my family, but growing up in south Texas I realized that not everyone has heard of them before.  Our holiday celebrations would not be complete without a few cabbage rolls gracing the table.

I am so glad I finally got over my fear of cabbage rolls.  Sorry for wasting all of that cabbage over the years and for refusing to eat them for the first 15 years of my life, Mom. Truly a mistake.

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