Rice Cabbage Rolls
Growing up in a Ukrainian household meant that special occasions were always celebrated with a large batch of cabbage rolls. Money was tight in the 1950s when my Mother was a little girl and her Mom was making cabbage rolls. This means that whether they wanted meat or not, it was generally not added to the cabbage rolls, which is possibly why that tradition got passed down to the present day (2015) where we often make our cabbage rolls with just basic rice, tomato sauce and cabbage. Okay so there are a few other yummy ingredients like butter and onions, but you get the idea.
Until recently, when making cabbage rolls I was taught to boil the whole head of cabbage, take it out to cool, and then carefully remove the leaf blankets to fill up with rice and roll into little sleeping bags. This method works fine, but when my Grandmother on my Father's side told me the latest trick that she uses with cabbage, we were excited to give it a try.
1 large green cabbage, frozen overnight
6 cups cooked rice (you can use any type of rice you wish)
2 tablespoons butter
1 large white onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 can tomato soup
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
(This will make 20-40 cabbage rolls. It depends on the size of the cabbage leaves)
Put the head of cabbage into the freezer and freeze overnight.
Cook the rice as per instructions on the package. You want to end up with about 6 cups of cooked rice.
Chop the onion into small pieces.
Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the chopped onions. Cook until golden brown.
Stir the onions into the rice. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Take the cabbage from the freezer.
Either use a large pot or you can use the sink and fill with hot water.
Soak the cabbage in the hot water. You will need a small knife to cut the leaves from the cabbage core. The leaves will peel off easily.
Put the peeled leaves into a holding bowl where the water can drain off. Be sure to trim off the hard part of the vein as it is tough for eating.
Seperate all the cabbage leaves. When the cabbage gets closer to the center and the leaves become too small for rolling, just use a knife to slice up the remaining cabbage.
In a small pot, heat up the tomato soup, butter and water. You dont need to boil. Just heat enough to melt the butter.
Pour a small amount of this soup mixture into the bottom of a small casserole roaster. Put the sliced cabbage into the bottom of the pot.
Assemble the cabbage rolls.
Put a spoonful of rice onto the end of the cabbage leaf. The amount will vary with the size of the leaf.
Roll up the cabbage, tucking in the sides as you roll.
Place the cabbage roll into the roasting pot. Continue with this process until you have used all the cabbage.
Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. Put a lid on and place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F.
Bake for one hour.
These cabbage rolls are delicious served with sour cream.
Click on the link to watch an instructional video on making the cabbage rolls.
Freezing the Cabbage:
The basic technique is the night before to place the whole head of cabbage into the freezer. Leave it there for the entire night. The next day when you are ready to make your cabbage rolls, remove the cabbage from the freezer. Either using a large bowl or a clean sink, fill it up with hot water. Soak the cabbage in the hot water, and then using a small paring knife, cut the leave from the cabbage core. You will be surprised just how easy they are to peel off. Place the pulled leaves into a bowl or strainer so the water can drain off. Once they are all cut off, you can now begin to fill the rolls and finish the recipe.
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