Victor and I share a pretty even like of different foods. It makes for cooking dinner pretty easy – we just know we’ll like whatever the other is cooking. The only two places where we part ways is with cooked cabbage and curry. Victor is just not a fan.
Of course, it took 10 or more years to find this out. I found out fairly early on about the cabbage but it did take years to find out about the curry. Finally, one day, he had to confess that he really did hate both.
No big deal – there are a bazillion foods to cook. Dropping a couple off the rotation really doesn’t stifle the creativity. But every now and again, I’ll see a recipe and think that it would be fun to make, only to realize it would be fun to make but not really well received.
So… several years back, Victor decided to make me Stuffed Cabbage. I was thrilled. It’s a childhood meal as well as something I’ve made absolutely forever. He found a recipe from Ina Garten – and he loved it! Score one for the Barefoot Contessa!
Since then, he’s made it a few more times. I let him decide when the time is right and Monday, he added cabbage onto the shopping list. It was time.
Naturally, the grocery store was out of green cabbage – the weather has played havoc with deliveries and with crops – but there was red cabbage. I wasn’t going to pass up an offer for stuffed cabbage, so red cabbage, it was!
The fun thing about red cabbage is when you blanch it, it colors the cooking water a glorious shade of purple – which then dyes everything it touches – like hands. It’s wonderful – especially if it’s someone else’s hands…
And it’s wonderful rolled around a beef and rice filling and baked in an agrodolce tomato sauce.
My stomach is smiling.
This is Ina’s recipe. Victor plays with it a bit and tweaks it for the two of us. The sweet/vinegary sauce with raisins really makes the dish. I could go after a bowl of that with a loaf of bread and die happy.
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large head Savoy or green cabbage, including outer leaves
For the filling:
- 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
- 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
- 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a paring knife. Immerse the head of cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes, peeling off each leaf with tongs as soon as it s flexible. Set the leaves aside. Depending on the size of each leaf, you will need at least 14 leaves.
For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, rice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add 1 cup of the sauce to the meat mixture and mix lightly with a fork.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To assemble, place 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Remove the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a small paring knife. Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in an oval shape near the rib edge of each leaf and roll up toward the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll. Place half the cabbage rolls, seam sides down, over the sauce. Add more sauce and more cabbage rolls alternately until you ve placed all the cabbage rolls in the pot. Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with the lid and bake for 1 hour or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender. Serve hot.
It’s the perfect wintry dinner…