Classic Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

No matter how long I spend in the kitchen, no matter how elegant or exotic the ingredients I use, no matter which fancy schmancy restaurant we’ve had the privilege to dine in over the years, my husband’s favorite food is still…meatloaf.  Plain old, boring old, same old same old meatloaf.  He’s a country boy from Montana who’s father had to teach his mother how to cook, so they say, when he married her and fortunately she got the meatloaf down pat.  So much so, that if I want to impress my man I need to buy a couple of pounds of the most fatty, disgusting ground beef they have in the meat department and just get it over with every once in a while.  Okay it’s not that bad, in fact, I kind of like it too, but it is not the dish I aspired to perfect in my Fundamentals of Cookery class a decade and a half ago.

When I started my blog he asked if I was going to post a meatloaf recipe.  Absolutely not.  Never ever.  The point of the blog was to remind myself that I have something that I can do other than clean the same old things over and over again and be Mom 24/7.   So posting a meatloaf recipe just feels like I’m going in the opposite direction that I want to go and though I don’t blog everything I cook and I do have lazy days when we have scrambled eggs or sandwiches for dinner, I will not be challenging myself by posting a meatloaf recipe.  Won’t do it.  I will, however, compromise and post a stuffed cabbage recipe that my husband likes almost as much because it has “meatloaf” in it.  Giggle.

I think of one of my old bosses when I make these.  I came in one Saturday and prepped for the evening service while he was working on something over on another table.  When I was done I went over to help him.  He was the kind of man, when I knew him, that you just listened to and didn’t make small talk with.  He showed me how to make the cabbage rolls he was working on.  I wasn’t dumb enough to tell him I had made them about 6,000 times and didn’t need to be shown.  When we were almost done, he thanked me, which I hadn’t heard from him before.  I asked if the rolls were that night’s special.  He said, no, that they were a gift for his neighbor, then put them in a box and walked out the back door.  I don’t know why that makes me laugh but it always does.  He died just a few weeks later and I wish I’d known him better.  So here’s one for Hubby and for my old boss who has gone to that great trattoria in the sky.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. ground beef

2 cups par-cooked rice

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 clove of garlic, pressed

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

14 to 16 cabbage leaves

2 cups tomato sauce

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Pull the cabbage leaves from a head of cabbage.  Cut the tough stem of each leaf away in a V shape.  Blanch the leaves in boiling salted water until tender and flexible.  Plunge in an ice water bath and drain.

Combine all remaining ingredients but the tomato sauce.

Spread out the cabbage leaves on a work surface.  Place approximately 3 T meat filling at the bottom end of each leaf.

Fold sides over the filling and roll up.

Place seam side down in a baking dish.

When all the leaves are stuffed, spoon the tomato sauce over the rolls.

Bake for one hour.

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