Not only is this dish a wonderful way to enjoy the tastes of good health but for many it is also a comfort food! When I was growing up, my grandmother would always make this dish around the holidays and for an extra added treat, there would be very special times when instead of using cabbage, she would use fresh grape leaves from St. Helena, California (in the heart of California's wine country).
Those who have studied food lore will often cite this dish as a gypsy dish created by the Hungarian gyspsy's. Whether this is factual or not is truthfully unkown, however it does have all the elements of gypsy cooking -- meaning a very earthy dish. These are also a great deal of fun to prepare and get the whole family involved, kids will love rolling the filling in the cabbage leaves.
As far as the cabbage is concerned, I prefer to use Napa cabbage, or as it is sometimes known, Chinese cabbage. The leaves are much larger and pliable and the taste is less pungent. If you want to use grape leaves, of course you can buy them at any local winery (there was a time they would give them to you for free!) or you can buy them at the store. If you buy the ones in the jars, make sure to rinse them under cold water before you use them.
Ingredients to make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (serves 4):
- 2 Tbs. corn oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- ½ cup rice
- 2 ½ cups chicken stock
- 1 Tbs. paprika
- 1 head green cabbage, cored
- 3 cups sauerkraut, drained
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ pound smoked pork butt, thinly sliced
- In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper and sauté 5 minutes. Add the rice, 1 cup of chicken stock and paprika. Cover the pan and simmer 10 minutes.
- Remove the rice from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Remove the leaves (whole) from the head of cabbage.
- Place the whole cabbage leaves into a pot of boiling water and cook (blanch) 2 minutes. Remove the leaves and place into a large bowl of ice water.
- In a large oven-proof sauté pan or skillet spread 2 cups of the sauerkraut.
- In a large bowl combine the ground pork, the cooled rice mixture and the egg until well combined.
- Remove the cabbage leaves from the ice water and pat dry. Lay each cabbage leaf out and place some of the rice stuffing into the middle of each leaf and then roll the leaves up burrito-style. Place each stuffed cabbage leaf into the sauté pan and on top of the sauerkraut.
- Place the smoked pork butt over the stuffed cabbage rolls and top all with the remaining sauerkraut. Pour the remaining stock over all, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 75 minutes.
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