Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls
written by Gayle (with the help of Joy)
This recipe is a great holiday tradition–or could become one! It comes from Susan Tesluk–thanks for a great recipe!
Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls
Makes 1 small roaster dish, or about 40 small rolls, 15-20 large rolls
2 large heads of organic green cabbage
5 cups slightly under-cooked organic white rice (2 cups uncooked)
1 lb ground organic lean beef
1 lb ground organic pork1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 medium organic onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 stalks of organic celery, finely chopped
3 cloves of organic garlic
1 bottle of organic tomato juice
1. Freeze the head of cabbage overnight, and then thaw in the sink in the morning. This will soften the leaves enough for making rolls without boiling the cabbage. Remove the tough outer leaves and set them aside. Cut out the core from the cabbage and separate the whole leaves from the head, placing them in a large bowl. Set the bowl aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, salt and pepper. The rice doesn’t need to be completely cooked, since the cabbage rolls will be in the oven for a while. That will help give them some room to expand and absorb moisture.
3. In a large frying pan on medium-high heat, pour enough olive oil into the pan to cover the bottom. Add the garlic, then the onion and celery, celery salt, salt and pepper. Fry until the onion and celery are soft and translucent. Then add in the ground beef and ground pork. Fry until meat is cooked through. Drain the fat. Add this mixture to the bowl of cooked rice.
4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the bottle of tomato juice, the 2 tbsp of olive oil and the water. Cook until the mixture is smooth. This tomato sauce will be used to spread over each layer of cabbage rolls.
5. Line the bottom of the roaster pan with a couple of the reserved outer cabbage leaves so that the cabbage rolls don’t stick to the bottom.
6. To assemble: Set up your cabbage rolling station with the bowl of cabbage leaves, the bowl of rice with a spoon, the tomato sauce with a ladle, the roaster pan, a cutting board and a knife, and a dry towel to rid the cabbage of excess moisture, if necessary.
To roll the cabbage rolls, cut each cabbage leaf in half lengthwise (or leave it whole to make large cabbage rolls, as shown), cut off any tough stem remaining on the leaf, and place a tablespoon or two of rice on the bottom of each half. Add more for larger rolls.
Roll it up while pinching in the sides – if there’s a side left exposed, it isn’t the end of the world.
Place the cabbage rolls in the roaster pan so that they’re quite snug, and after you complete a layer of cabbage rolls, ladle on some of the tomato sauce mixture.
Continue until you run out of rice and/or cabbage.
Top with all of the remaining tomato sauce mixture.
Cover the top with a couple of the reserved outer cabbage leaves.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover the roaster pan with a lid or with tin foil and bake for about 2 hours, or until the cabbage leaves are tender when they’re pricked with a fork.
-Tomato rice filling: Make these cabbage rolls even more tomato-y by cooking the rice in equal parts water and tomato juice.
-Dilly rice filling: Add 1/4 cup (or more!) of chopped fresh dill to the rice.
-Mushroom rice filling: Simply add 1 to 2 cups of chopped and cooked mushrooms to the rice.-Regular/Vegan Bacon rice filling: Add 1 cup of crispy cooked regular/vegan bacon to the rice.