I've made lots of meatballs and lots of stuffed cabbage using different recipes, but this new to me recipe, inspired by Mario Batalli's latest in his - Big American Cookbook, was really good!!!
Stuffed Cabbage (and then some)
1 large head of cabbage 1 pound ground beef 1 pound ground pork
2 cups cooked rice (In my case I had 1 cup left over rice and added 1 cup bread crumbs to make up the difference, but I think 2 cups of either would be fine. I also dampen my bread crumbs with milk when using them in meatballs or meatloaf....a trick I learned in another Batali recipe!)
2 onions, grated 2 tsp fennel seeds 2 tsp ground coriander s/p to taste
Supposedly one can dunk the whole cabbage into boiling water and peel off the leaves. Once outer ones are removed, dunk some more, peel more and so on. This process has never worked that well for me...so, I usually just peel and then blanch the leaves (and other bits) I've collected. Once you have your cabbage leaves prepped...set aside and simply mix all ingredients listed for the filling. Stuff leaves with the meat filling and fold over. Give ornery bits that wouldn't come apart in nice leaves a rough chop and tuck them along side the nice rolls as shown below. If you're like me and have (or plan to have...cause it's worth it!!!) left over filling - roll them into meatballs and place on greased baking sheet.
Tomato Sauce: One onion, grated 2 cloves garlic, minced s/p (add basil and/or oregano if you just want a yummy spaghetti sauce...but I don't recommend it for this dish) - Saute in olive oil til tender. Add about 1/2 c red wine and cook down. (You may use broth or just proceed to the next step if you don't wish to use the wine.) Add 1 large can tomato sauce and 1 small can chopped tomatoes. Simmer for at least 30 minutes...longer is fine and perhaps better.
All of this can be done a day before and refrigerated if you like. When ready to bake - Pour about 1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth (enough to cover bottom of your baking dish) over cabbage rolls. Top with a smattering of tomato sauce. Cover pan with foil and bake for about an hour at 350.
Meanwhile, (or beforehand) bake off the meatballs, at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your balls, turning once at about 7 minutes. I like to do this when I'm making the sauce and put them in it then which adds to the flavor!!!
|Before baking and adding sauce.|