Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lazy Cabbage Rolls

Every once in a while, I get really hungry for cabbage rolls. There are thousands of recipes and variations for Cabbage Rolls. Different types of cabbages switch up the flavours as do a multitude of variations in the sauces. Then there is the fillings. Some use mostly rice with a bit of ground beef or bacon in the filling. Some use a rice and vegetable mixture and others use more meat and only a bit of rice.

It is all a matter of personal taste and to a large degree, what version you grew up with. I grew up with the mostly meat filling and therefore tend to find the mostly rice versions to be lacking in something flavour wise.

Many years ago, I had a neighbour who made an amazing version! She bought a special type of cabbage that I can't recall the name of. The filling was about 50/50 meat and rice and the sauce was thick, rich in tomato flavour with a bit of tanginess and sweetness! They were amazing! Unfortunately she never shared the recipe with me, but we did have a deal that whenever she would make her cabbage rolls, I would bake buns and we'd share! I really hated to see her move!! I've never tasted anything else that even came close to hers since!

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes buy an oversized head of cabbage and carefully boil it so she could gradually remove the outer leaves to make cabbage rolls. It was a LOT of work and more often than not, the leaves would tear and would have to be pieced or overlapped with other leaves to roll the meat and rice mixture into. As tasty as they were, they just weren't worth the effort and the time.

So, more often than not, mom would make Lazy Cabbage Rolls by layering the sauce, meat mixture and cabbage in a Dutch Oven and then baking it to a tasty perfection! To be honest, other than the visual appeal of the rolls, there is no difference in the taste. The only difference we ever found was that sometimes the whole leaves would get a little stringy or the rib like sections near the core would be too tough to eat. We certainly didn't care if we had rolls as opposed to the lazy version - especially if it meant we got to have this yummy supper a little more often!

Mom usually served some homemade bread or buns along with this dish - and that is the way I prefer to have them as well. I bake the buns the day before or that morning, then warm them just before serving.

Lazy Cabbage Rolls

9 cups chopped cabbage (about a 3lb before coring and cutting)

2 1/2 cups pasta sauce (640ml bottle)
3 cups tomato sauce (700ml can)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 lb/454g lean ground beef
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (NOT instant)
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium cooking onion)
1 Tablespoon Bar-B-Q sauce (original, garlic or onion work best)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
dash of salt and black pepper

Chop the cabbage into bite size pieces, removing the core and the thicker rib like stems near the core. Place the cabbage along with, 1/2 cup water and a dash of salt in a Dutch Oven. Cover and bring to a boil on top of the stove. Reduce to medium heat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and drain liquid. Transfer the partially cooked cabbage to a large mixing bowl.

While the cabbage is cooking and cooling, combine the pasta sauce, tomato sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the ground beef, rice, onion, Bar-B-Q sauce, garlic powder, oregano, a dash of salt and pepper and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce mixture. Mix well.

Add 1 cup of the sauce mixture to the cooled cabbage and combine to coat the cabbage.

In the Dutch Oven layer the ingredients as evenly as possible WITHOUT stirring:
1/4 cup sauce mixture
3 cups cabbage sauce mixture
1/2 of meat rice mixture
1 cup sauce mixture
3 cups cabbage sauce mixture
1/2 meat rice mixture
1 cup sauce mixture
remaining cabbage sauce mixture
remaining sauce mixture

Cover and cook in preheated 350F oven for 1 hour 30 minutes then uncover and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Serve hot with fresh bread or buns.

Serves 6-8.

- This can also be made into 3 smaller casseroles or loaf pans. Divide ingredients as evenly as possib
le between the pans and bake as above - reducing time by about 30 minutes covered and 10 uncovered. Allow to cool completely then cover and freeze to be used at a later date.
- The entire cooked dish can also be divided, cooled and frozen into individual portions for later use.
- Thaw in fridge overnight or in microwave safe container before reheating.



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