There is a cabbage farm just a couple of miles from our house. I am glad it is not closer because at certain times of the year, it is painful to drive down that road – cabbage is a very “aromatic” crop – to put it mildy.
Naturally, cabbage was in our CSA basket.
I had already made rye bread that day, so I would continue to channel my eastern european-ness and made stuffed cabbage for dinner.
Now THIS is comfort food!
I remember stuffed cabbage being an all day process for my mother, so I thought “why would I want to put myself through that?” While I was making this dinner for 3, I realized why hers took so long. When she made it, she was typically cooking for a holiday meal of 40 people! No wonder it took all day! Trust me, this cooks for a long time, but the actual work time is well under an hour.
adapted from Prakkes in Jewish Food – The World at Table by Matthew Goodman
1 medium cabbage, about 2 lbs (locally grown)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (locally grown)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage to the pot and cook just a few minutes until the outer layers of leaves are pliable and can be removed without breaking (I sliced them at their base with a sharp paring knife to remove it). Place the removed leaves in a large bowl of cold water. Continue this process until you have 10 – 12 leaves removed. Save the rest of the cabbage for lining the pot.
Pat the leaves dry. For large leaves, slice them in half, removing the center rib. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the the onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are well browned. Remove from the skillet and place in a medium bowl.
Add the meat to the skillet and cook til browned, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Mix into the onion-mushroom mixture, season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Line the bottom of a heavy pot or dutch oven with the leftover cabbage leaves.
Place about 1/4 cup of the filling in the center of a cabbage leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf to trap the filling, the roll up the leaf to form a cylinder. Place in the pot, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
In a medium bowl, combine the tomato puree, brown sugar, vinegar and water and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour over the stuffed cabbage. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the cabbage is very tender, at least 1 1/2 hours.
Serve the stuffed cabbage with the sauce spooned over it. Enjoy!