Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Roll in the Cabbage (Old Fashioned Cabbage Rolls)


How many helpings can you handle?

From childhood to early adulthood
, my body was more angles than curves, and more plains than hills. But looks deceived. At age twelve, I had the appetite of a longshoreman and could eat anyone under the table.

My West Virginia cousins still like to tell the story of the cabbage rolls. When Aunt Kathleen served up a giant pot, I couldn't get enough. Seconds? Thirds? Ha! Legend has it that I returned to the pot ten times before I rolled over and said "Enough!"

Kathleen has passed on, but her daughter-in-law Frances has carried on the tradition. When I reunited with the Allens three years ago, they asked what I'd like for dinner. Of course, I requested cabbage rolls.

They didn't disappoint, and, this time, I asked for the recipe.

The simplicity, especially the "can of tomato juice" for the sauce, surprised me. I don't dare tinker with the recipe for the cabbage rolls, but, since then, I've been doctoring up the sauce, using crushed tomatoes instead of tomato juice, and adding depth with sauteed onions and garlic, honey and a squeeze of a Meyer lemon.


Kathleen's Famous Cabbage Rolls (with Susan's adaptations)
(Makes 10 to 12 Rolls)


1 lbs. Ground Beef
1/2 lb. Sausage (Mild)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Slices of Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Instant Rice

1 Egg
1/2 t. Cumin
1/2 t Turmeric

Sauce:
1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped

2 T. Canola Oil
2 Cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 Meyer Lemon
Salt and Pepper to Taste

2 T. honey

For Cabbage Rolls:

Mix together ingredients and shape in to fist size meatballs. Roll up in cabbage leaves that have been parboiled until tender.

For Sauce:

Saute onions and garlic in oil until softened. Add two cans crushed tomatoes, honey and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and simmer while preparing cabbage rolls.

To Assemble:

Put cabbage rolls in a large pot (I use an enamel cast iron pot), cover with sauce and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When I ate this dish with the Allen clan, they served it with garden-fresh corn on the cob, fresh-baked rolls and gallons of sweet tea.

(My apologies for the long blogging absence and the jumble of font sizes. Blogspot is not cooperating.)


16 comments:

Chrissy said...

oops? only one ingredient posted....

Mary said...

I'm so glad cabbage rolls have survived and past the test of time. Your recipe sounds wonderful. I make mine with a can of tomato soup, but we won't tell anyone that :-). Thanks for sharing this with us, Susan.

Cafe Pasadena said...

When you're done with the rolls, put up the pic of the finished product.

Susan C said...

Chrissy, You were too fast for me! The complete recipe and a photo are now posted.

Mary, A can of tomato soup? Boy that Campbells has infiltrated every recipe. : )

CP, Finally got the photo up.

altadenahiker said...

I grew up with these and love them! No maters, though. We had some sort of a light white sauce.

A friend and I did try making them a few years ago. A HUGE pot of them for some party or other. Don't expect pretty results from a cabbage leaf if you've got a case of the giggles.

Susan C said...

AH, A white sauce? That's a new one on me. I wonder if it was a bechamel sauce base. Or a can of cream of mushroom soup.

My friend Natasha, whose ancestors are Russian, introduced me to to cabbage rolls with sauerkraut in the sauce. Yum!

Desiree said...

Great photo! Looks like a super recipe!

Linda Dove said...

Oh, you must have read my mind. R brought home a huge head of cabbage from the Farmer's Market on Sat., and I was meaning to get online and find a recipe.

Here I go....

Sharon, TeamKrissy said...

Yummy! I can't wait to make the cabbage rolls. It's a wonderful meal on cold, rainy day.

altadenahiker said...

Cream of mushroom --- how dare you.

Barbaro said...

I used to be long on appetite and short on body too. Still am, but the digestion takes a lot longer. In my family potato dumplings were the legendary filler-up-er.

Susan C said...

Thanks, Dez.

Linda, if you try it, let me know how it comes out. I think it may need a little more sweetener (honey or brown sugar) to give it that nice sweet and sour taste.

Barbara, "Long on appetite, short on body" - yes, that sums it up wonderfully. Potato dumplings sound great. Are you from PA?

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

If Aunt Kathleen's cabbage rolls weren't famous before, they are now. I think thats a country thing...calling your favorite dishes "famous."

I've never had any Ozarkian variation of this dish but then one never wants to be around Ramona after she's consumed cabbage. Must say, those cabbage rolls do look tasty. Look forward to Linda's review

Karen said...

Susan, I made a lower-cal version of this recipe, using ground turkey and omitting the sausage and rice.

As the sauce was cooking it was rather bitter (and I only used half a lemon), so I sprinkled in about a tablespoon of sugar at the end.

Man, it was delicious! Tangy, rich sauce and the cabbage rolls were tender and flavorful. The turmeric really adds a lot.

Even notoriously picky hubby, who usually doesn't like cabbage rolls, said, "That was really good! I love that sauce!"

Thanks! That's a keeper.

Susan C said...

Sharon, It really is a great rainy day meal.

AH, Hey, half the recipes created in the 50s and 60s used canned soups. : )

Karen, That's great that you added your own twist and that it was a hit.

Linda reported on FB that she made the dish and it went over well.

One of her commenters said that she likes to serve cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes. That's a new one.

Piper Robert said...

You said, cream of mushroom. :) I didn't know it existed in your vocabulary.

Wow, cabbage rolls are the best.