Recipe for polish-style cabbage rolls. I grew up referring to these as 'Pigs in the blanket", but there is no pork in this recipe. Nowadays "Pigs in the blanket" are commonly named for sausages rolled up in a pancake. My cabbage rolls may be too time consuming for some folks, but they are simply satisfying. They freeze well and fill your house with a wonderful aroma when cooking.
total prep time: 90 minutes total cook time: 4-6 hours total time: 5 ½ to 7 ½ hours
makes about 30 rolls
2-3 medium sized heads of green cabbage
3 pounds (total) of ground meat-ground beef chuck or pork or combination of both
⅓ cup long grain white rice, uncooked
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
1 28-ounce can diced or whole tomatoes
1 12-ounce jar of roasted red bell peppers
2 cups sauerkraut
1 medium-sized sweet onion, peeled and diced
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp each, table salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
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Step 1: Bring a Large Pot of Water to a Boil
Use a large enough stockpot to fully submerge your head of cabbage.
Fill pot about ¾ of the way full of water, place on direct heat source, cover with tight-fitting lid, and bring to a boil.
Step 2: Gather Recipe Ingredients and Utensils and Prepare Meat Mixture
While water is heating, gather items for the recipe and prepare meat mixture. Place the meat, rice, diced onions, minced garlic, salt and pepper and 1/3 cup of the sauerkraut with brine into mixing bowl. Using clean hands, mix all ingredients until fully incorporated.
Step 3: Prep the Cabbage
Remove any tough or broken outer leaves from each head of cabbage.
Wash the cabbage thoroughly under cold running water to remove dirt or debris. Cut an approximate two-inch, cone-shaped incision into the bottom of the cabbage(s) and remove the core(s) as shown.
Carefully place the whole cabbage in a large pan of simmering water. Allow to sit in this hot water for approximately two-five minutes until the leaves begin to pull away from the head. Use serving spoon (not shown in photo) to hold cabbage still while using the tongs to carefully pull the leaves from the head. Place separated leaves onto a pan or plate until you’ve removed all the usable leaves from the head. The yield of usable leaves range between 8-12 leaves per head, depending on size. Drain hot water, rinse out stockpot, then place a thin layer of tomato sauce on bottom of stockpot. Remove tough vein from bottom of leaves, as shown.
Step 4: Prepare the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Lie prepared cabbage leaf flat on work surface and place approximately a ¼ cup of meat mixture on bottom center of leaf. Wrap ends of cabbage leaf over the meat mixture as shown. Roll the cabbage leaf up taking care to tuck in the ends. Place cabbage rolls, seam side down, into stockpot as shown.
Step 5: Continue to Layer Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Pan
Arrange cabbage rolls in a single layer in stockpot. Sprinkle about ⅓ cup of sauerkraut, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and roasted red pepper on top of rolls. Add bay leaf on top of a layer. Repeat layers of rolls and process until ingredients are gone. Top off pot with remaining tomato sauce and add about a can of water so the rolls are submerged in liquid.
Step 6: Cook the Rolls for Several Hours Until Tender
Place your covered pot of cabbage rolls on stove top and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and continue to simmer for several hours until the cabbage leaves are tender.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Meal!
Place desired amount of cabbage rolls with sauce in bowl, and dig in!