Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
This past weekend I cleaned and cleaned and organized and cleaned and organized and cleaned some more. My hand-wash pile is done, my rooms, closets and car are rid of all superfluities. Nesting?…highly likely, I suppose. The house looks almost like a temple but I know it won’t be long before my laundry is piled up again and my car has more empty water bottles than a recycling bin.
All that hard work made me feel like I was ready for D-day. It made me feel strong and worthy. It made me feel good. It also made hungry for something very hearty. I had all I needed to make stuffed cabbage leaves but those are no walk in the park. Making them is a multi-step process that could easily keep me on my feet in the kitchen for a good hour but I was supercharged with some sort of mysterious new energy. I would have made them even if I knew they would take longer. I knew they would be worth it.
There is making the sauce. Then there is cooking the rice, seasoning the meat, blanching the cabbage, stuffing the leaves and baking them. Had I planned ahead I would have had a couple of steps done beforehand, and this dish could have been a breeze. I know it has the potential for it.
STUFFED CABBAGE LEAVES RECIPE
Yield: Makes 10 -12 rolls / 3-4 servings
Prep Time: 45 MIN
Cook Time: 50 MIN
The process for this recipe is a bit lengthy. I advise making the sauce and cooking the rice (perhaps even seasoning the meat) in advance to save time.
1 recipe Perfect Tomato Sauce
1 pound lean ground beef
¾ cup cooked brown rice
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons grated yellow onion
1 egg yolk
1 small head of green cabbage
Make the tomato sauce.
Combine the ground beef, cooked rice, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, nutmeg, onion and egg yolk in a large mixing bowl. Knead well to combine the ingredients.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Slowly drop the head of cabbage in the boiling water and blanch it for 8 to 10 minutes until soft and pliable. Using tongs, gently remove the cabbage from the water. Run it under cold water for a few seconds.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the baking rack in the bottom of the oven.
Separate the cabbage leaves and pat them dry with a paper towel. Place one leaf at a time on a cutting board and cut out the thick vain in the middle without damaging the leaf. Shape a 3-inch log of beef mixture and place it in the middle of the cabbage leaf. Roll it as you would an eggroll by tucking in the sides and rolling into a cigar shape. Repeat until you’ve used up all the beef mixture.
Place the stuffed cabbage leaves side by side in a small/medium baking pan. Spoon the sauce over the cabbage leaves. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 20 minutes.
Let cool slightly. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro or parsley.