Mom’s Stuffed Cabbages

My grandma loved cookbooks.  I mean, really loved them, more than anyone I know.  She had hundreds, all lining the bookshelves in her home.  There were stacks of Gourmet Magazine, and pages of torn-out recipes among the books.

Today, I too, love cookbooks.  My own collection is amassing and threatening to take over my bookshelf.  It seems my grandma’s love of the things is hereditary, although I would have never guessed it as a kid.

One of our favorite family dinners comes from a cookbook my grandma gave my mom before her passing, The Jewish Holiday Cookbook.  My grandma never actually made this dish, but my mom would make it for her on occasion, and it was one of her favorites as well.

I love the balance of the sweet and sour tomato sauce after it cooks for over four hours.  It becomes thick and chunky, and is the perfect accompaniment to the tender cabbage and dense, moist filling.  The dried cranberries are my mom’s replacement for the raisins, and serve as sweet-tart little surprises in each bite.

They make the best leftovers, and are especially delicious paired with buttery mashed potatoes.

Introducing cabbage rolls to my fiance, I was not convinced that he would like them.  To my surprise, he loves them and often requests them of family dinners at my parents’ house.

Many cultures have a variation on the cabbage roll, sometimes using grapes leaves instead of cabbage.  I can remember being at my Egyptian study partner’s house in high school and her mom making a very similar version using grape leaves, but without the tomato sauce.

Mom’s Turkey Stuffed Cabbages
Adapted from The Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan

1 large green cabbage
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
1/2 tsp.  pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup ketchup
1 egg
1 cup uncooked rice
1 medium onion, grated
1/2 cup dried cranberries

For the Sauce:

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 large onion, grated
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup ketchup
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar

Freeze the head of cabbage for two days and defrost on the counter the night before cooking.  Or, if you’re short on time, core the head of cabbage and boil until the leaves are tender.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the ground beef, ground turkey, salt, pepper, garlic powder, ketchup, egg rice and grated onion.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, grated onion, garlic powder, ketchup, lemon juice and brown sugar.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer about 20 minutes, or until the cabbage rolls are ready to be cooked.  Remove the core from the head of cabbage.  Carefully separate the leaves.  On each leaf, cut out the middle stem so it is more pliable.

Place 3 heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture on each leaf.  Tuck the ends in and roll it up like a burrito, placing it seam-side down in a casserole dish or Dutch oven.  Try to keep each cabbage roll a similar size for even cooking.

You can either leave them in one layer and pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls, OR put one layer of cabbage rolls, pour over half of the sauce, do another layer of cabbage rolls and pour over the rest of the sauce, depending on how large your dish is.

Bake covered for 3 hours.  Uncover and bake for an additional hour.

They are delicious right away and as leftovers.

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Author: Adrienne | Categories: Home Cooking + Recipes | Comments: 5

5 Comments

  1. Posted September 29, 2010 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    My grandmother used to make stuffed cabbage rolls that were divine. I seem to remember that whatever sauce was leftover after all the rolls were gone got turned into soup. I have her recipe but can’t make them nearly as well as she did.

  2. Posted September 29, 2010 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

    Very nice. How practical would it be to sub some veggie options for this?

  3. Earl
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    Adrienne,
    Your Grandmother, Yudis Judith Schiff was the family historian. The history she kept was by the food she cooked, the recipes she kept and the memories made at family gatherings. I am so happy to see that you have a passion for recipes and cooking as your Grandmother did.
    She loved you more than you can imagine and her memory lives on. I am so proud of you for this.
    With each bite I am reminded of her love for us and my love for you. Much love, your Dad!

  4. Posted September 29, 2010 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    This is the perfect time of year for making these cabbage rolls as they resemble small Torah scrolls and are traditionally eaten during the holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

    Enjoy!

    Mom

  5. Posted September 30, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    Adam, that’s a tough one! My mom suggested using soy crumbles in place of the ground beef. I’m going to give this more thought and get back to you…

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