Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

By on December 9, 2013
By Michelle Love, Staff Writer; Art by Daniel Twieg/Photo Editor

I grew up in a very food oriented family. My mother and grandmother always cooked good, wholesome meals for dinner that we always ate as a family and my father made deliciously comforting lunches that were usually just for him and me. This past week was the third-year anniversary of my father’s death, so I am dedicating this article to him. My father was Jewish, so Jewish cuisine was no stranger to our dinner table. Every Thursday we would drive down together as a family to Brody’s, our favorite deli in Birmingham. We would buy a large loaf of rye bread and a pack of freshly sliced salami and go home to devour countless sandwiches. Since my father’s death, Brody’s has closed and it has been hard to find another deli in town that fills the void that these losses have left.

In the three years I’ve lived without my dad, it’s been rough. I miss our talks and our jokes and our lunches together. I believe that he had a huge impact on my love of cooking, and I try to remember him whenever I make a nice, delicious meal. Since Birmingham has a shortage on authentic Jewish restaurants, I’ve tried to dabble in recreating classic recipes from (as my Dad’s grandmother would say) the old country. One of these classic Jewish meals is stuffed cabbage. Now, I’ll admit that I was very skeptical to try stuffed cabbage recipes – not because they’re difficult or time consuming, but because when you boil cabbage it stinks to high heaven. However, that smell is only temporary, and the end result of your stinky cooking efforts quickly becomes a family favorite. Anyone who has walked in and smelled the overwhelming odor of boiled cabbage in their home knows what deliciousness awaits their taste buds.

What You’ll Need

For the rolls:

  • 12 cabbage leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 cup cooked white or brown rice
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • garlic powder (go to town)
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin (do not add a lot of cumin. Cumin is incredibly potent and could overpower the flavor of your other spices)

For the sauce:

  • 1 can of tomato sauce (8 ounces)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • a mixture of 2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Next, boil your cabbage leaves in salted water covered for about three minutes. When they get loose enough, drain them of water and place them in a stack in front of you. For the filling, combine all of your filling ingredients together and mix thoroughly with your hands until everything is thoroughly combined. Take a big helping of your filling and place it in the center of your cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf like a burrito and make sure that it’s secure (use a toothpick if you have to). Place your rolls in a baking pan.

To make the sauce, combine your sauce ingredients, cook until thickened, and pour over the rolls. Bake the rolls while covered with aluminum foil for about 45 minutes. This dish is absolutely satisfying and delicious and will have you ready to celebrate any holiday. It’s perfect for families, or if you’re just in the mood for cabbage, nothing beats this delicious dish.

Happy Eating!

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