Meaty Cabbage Rolls

Baahaha!  Can you believe,  this is the best picture I have of making cabbage rolls!  It almost looks a little vulgar. Oh well, I think you get the idea.

Many cultures make cabbage rolls, like the Ukrainians, Russians, Hungarians, Poles, and almost any Slavic nation.  And for the most part,  they’re the same in all cultures  with only slight variations.  

Some people will argue that Ukrainian cabbage rolls are meatless and contain only rice and onions.  I’ve only known this to be true at a traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper.  And that’s because I am Ukrainian by heritage and we celebrate Ukrainian Christmas.

Honestly, I don’t think it matters all that much.  Make ‘em how you like ‘em!  And this is how I like ‘em.  

This recipe is for 30 rolls.  Note that making cabbage rolls is time consuming. So give yourself an entire afternoon to make them.

  • Two medium size heads of cabbage 
  • 2 cups of long grain rice
  • 2 medium size onions – diced
  • 3-4 slices of bacon – cubed
  • 2 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 pound of ground pork
  • 1 tbsp of seasoning salt
  • 2 tsps of ground black pepper 
  • 1 tbsp of paprika 
  • 1 tbsp of onion powder 
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder 
  • One tin of diced tomatoes 
  • One tin of crushed tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp of oregano 

Directions:

Get yourself a big pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.

Start off by taking the core out of the cabbage heads. This can be done with a paring knife by going around the centre core at an angle and eventually widening around where the core used to be.

Now place the heads of cabbage into the pot of boiling water. What we’re doing here is blanching the cabbage so that it’ll be easier to work with.  After a couple of minutes, take a craving fork or a wooden spoon to hold the cabbage in place while you peel off the cabbage leaves with a pair of tongs.  Take off about 4  leaves at a time. Leave them in the boiling water for a few minutes then remove the leaves from the water and place them in a large bowl to cool.  Repeat until the leaves of the cabbages are starting to get too small for rolling.

Another way to get the cabbage leaves pliable enough  to work with is to freeze the heads of cabbage.  But you really have to plan for this because you can’t freeze a head of cabbage overnight.  For a head of cabbage to fully freeze they will need almost a whole week in a freezer and then time to thaw out.  Up to you but I find it just as easy to boil the heads and remove the leaves in the boiling water.

So, while the cabbage is cooling down enough to deal with.  Cook the rice.  Use a little less water than you normally would.  You want the rice to be a little al dente as it will continue to cook once rolled into the cabbage and baked.

In a large frying pan,  start cooking the cubed bacon.  Once the bacon has rendered some of its fat add the onions and garlic.  Cook until soft but not crispy.

In a large bowl place the rice, bacon and onion mixture, and spices ( seasoning salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.) Give it a good stir and let it cool before adding the meat.

While the rice mixture is cooling down.  Remove the thickest part of the rib on the cabbage leaves. See below…..

Keep the ribs as you see in the picture and any other bits of cabbage. This will help protect the bottom of the cabbage rolls from burning while they’re baking.

Once the rice mixture is completely cool add the ground beef and pork. Mix really well.  There is no need to cook the meat first as you will be cooking the meat by baking it in the rolls.

Now you’re ready to start assembling!  In a large roaster, with the bits of cabbage on the bottom, grab a leaf of cabbage in one hand and with the other spoon a good amount of the rice and meat mixture into the centre of the leaf.  Now roll that puppy like you’re making a burrito and tuck in the ends with your finger just like in the picture.  Place the rolls into the roaster in rows.  Repeat until all the leaves are filled or you run out of filling or both.

Next you will want to pour the white vinegar over top of the rolls.  Then season the rolls with a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and oregano.  Now pour both cans of tomatoes over top of the rolls and cover with any remaining leaves or even some parchment paper.  This will protect the cabbage rolls from the aluminum foil.  Foil tends to pit when it comes in contact with the acid found in tomatoes and then it sticks to your food which is kind of gross.

Cover roaster tightly with foil and place a cookie sheet with sides underneath to catch drips.

Bake in a 350 F oven for 3 hours!

Have a large shot of Vodka!  Cheers!  You deserve it!

Pairs well with mashed potatoes or if you’re really ambitious- perogies!

Have another shot of Vodka!  Lol

Remember to cook with love in your heart- the food will taste better!

If you try this recipe and want to share please put your comments in the section below.  Thanks ❤️

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