Stuffed Cabbage

This one takes time but it’s worth the effort.  The weather’s cold and comfort food is the perfect remedy for a dreary winter day.

serve plain or with sauce.

This old-world classic takes a whole afternoon, so grab a book and make some tea, and settle into a little quality down time.  Note:  I’ve amended the stuffing to include tomato, which is not in the pictures.  Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.

Stuffed Cabbage (serves 6 – 8 )

  • 1 medium cabbage, about three pounds
  • ½ pound chicken or pork sausage
  • ½ cup cooked rice
  • 4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (substituted 1 can diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 onion, shredded
  • 1 stick celery, shredded
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Salt & pepper to taste

you can add seeded, diced tomato to the stuffing for a little more zest

Trim off and discard loose outer leaves.  In a large pot (4 quarts or more) bring 2 quarts of salted water to boil (use ½ tbsp salt per quart of water).  Reduce to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Prepare stuffing by adding oil and sausage to a skillet.  Break sausage in small pieces and thoroughly cook.  Then add carrot, celery, onion, oregano, tomatoes, and paprika and season with salt and pepper.  Once the vegetables are softened, remove from heat and mix in the cooked rice.

Remove the cabbage and place in a colander to drain.  Set aside any leaves that may have come loose.  Do not discard water.  Place on a double layer of cheesecloth and let rest till it’s cooled enough to handle. Gently pull back the outer leaves until you reach the firm heart.  You’ll know you’re there when the leaves no longer pull back.

carefully pull back the leaves so that they don’t tear

Cut off the heart at the stem, finely dice it, and mix it in with the stuffing.

cut the stem at the base of the heat. be careful not to cut off the base of the unfolded leaves

Pack the stuffing into the center of the cabbage.  This should be about the same size and shape as the cabbage heart.

pack the stuffing into place. it should not be loose

Place the loose leaves the may have come off over the stuffing to help hold it in place.  Fold outer leaves back into place.

make sure the leaves are securely placed and cover the contents

Tie the ends of cheesecloth together firmly.

tie the ends tightly to secure the leaves in place

Place cabbage bundle back in the pot of water and chicken stock.  Add more water if necessary.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a low simmer, cover the pot with a lid, and cook for two hours.

the cabbage will float once there’s enough liquid in the pot

Using a fork, lift the bundle and place it in a colander and let drain for 10 minutes (hold a bowl underneath the bundle to catch hot liquid).

let drain for 10 minutes

The place in a bowl and untie the cheesecloth.

if the knot’s too tight you can cut them off with scissors

Place a plate on top of the bowl and gently invert.  Remove the cheesecloth and repeat the inversion back to the first bowl so that the stem is on the bottom.

you could also roll this over with large spoons, but be careful

turn once more — you want the stem on the bottom for support while cutting. it also looks a lot better that way

Keep the cabbage in this bowl for service so that it keeps its shape.  To serve, cut it in wedges like a cake.

serve with rustic bread and butter

Pairings: This goes well with rolls or a crusty bread.  It can be served with a with a yogurt sauce.  While the cabbage is draining, you can prepare the sauce by whisking the following ingredients in a double boiler:

  • ½ cup greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ½ clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Pepper to taste
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