Every fall, I look forward to cooking, and freezing comfort food. Like a bear, preparing to hibernate for the winter, I spend days filling the cupboard with preserves, and the freezer with quick meals. I try to use the vegetables that are in season. I don't have much of a garden, so I buy from the farmers markets, beg for donations from my parents & In-Laws gardens, and buy in bulk from the grocery store when it is plentiful and cheap. From this (& some help from the Ukrainians) was born.......
"Cabbage Roll Season"
This recipe has evolved from the many restaurants I have worked in, and from the recipe books from Churches. I have combined the best ingredients, with the best recipes I could find to make my own version. It is time consuming, so I try to do it over a couple of days.
Serve with a "dallop" of sour cream.
Go grocery shopping - I wait until I can get the cabbage for $0.99/each
5 heads of cabbage
2 - 2.5 lbs of ground beef
2 - 2.5 lbs of ground pork
package of white rice - (parboiled is fine, but not minute rice) - enough to make 8 cups of cooked rice
4 medium onions
4 stalks of celery
1 green pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup parsley
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
8 tins of tomato soup
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1.5 cups of ketchup - diluted with 1.5 cups of water
1/4 cup of dried onion flakes
1/3 cups butter
Prepare! - Chop, dice, cook!
Cook the rice as per directions. 8 cups of cooked rice is needed
(For chopping I use my "Slap Chop")
Finely chop onions
Finely chop celery
Finely chop green pepper
Refrigerate all vegetables and rice and continue the next day
Cut the core out of the cabbage. Fill a large pot half full of water and bring to a boil. Put 1 whole cabbage in the pot, and make sure it is not touching the bottom. Boil cabbage, and continually peel off the outer layers of cabbage leaves as they soften. Do each cabbage separately. When the leaves are cooled, use a paring knife to thin the thick meaty spines, to make them easier to roll. Save the smaller core parts of the cabbage, by partly cooking, and freezing to make stews and casseroles.
Meat Mixture: In a large bowl, mix together the uncooked meat, rice, 2/3ds of the chopped onion, green pepper, celery, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 3 tsp. minced garlic & parsley. Set aside.
Sauce: In a pot or large bowl, mix the tomato soup, with 8 tins of water, and all of the rest of the sauce ingredients. Mix well.
**Take 4 cups of the sauce mix and add to the meat/rice and mix it in.
Next take about a palm full of the mixture of meat and put a "log" shape in the center of each cabbage leaf and roll similar to rolling a soft taco. The amount depends on the size of the cabbage leaf. leave ample room so the meat will not "ooze" out.
Put in the roaster tight in 2 long rows, leaving room in between the rows for some juice. I can fit 12 large cabbage rolls in each row, 24 in each layer. I can fit 48 in my roaster. The leftover cabbage rolls i cook in the oven in a 9"x13" baking dish. Spoon 2 ladles of sauce over each row of cabbage rolls to keep them hydrated while cooking. Cook for 2.5 hours on 375.
I freeze most of my cabbage rolls in different size freezer bags, for easy dinners, and potlucks.
While the rolls are cooking, I spoon the extra mixture of sauce into labelled bags and freeze them separately from the cabbage rolls. This is so the cabbage rolls will not get soggy.