This recipe for Stuffed Cabbage is the essence of food memory for me. The aroma and taste bring back my Grandparents, Margaret-the lady who made it for them and Annie Mae- the lady who made it for my parents, myself and my brother. When I was a toddler, Grandma Jeannie used to offer me Zuzus as a snack. Those Zuzus also flavored her recipe for Stuffed Cabbage. Today, I make my own Zuzus or Ginger Snaps , which give these cabbage rolls a fabulous sweet and spicy taste that is incomparable. As with so many recipes, this one ties the generations together. My children and grandchildren are now eating the same stuffed cabbage my great grandparents, grandparents and parents used to eat. There is something wonderful about that.
Prep time: 135 minutes
Hint: You can make or buy the Gingersnaps way in advance. I recommend preparing this recipe over two days. I usually separate the cabbage leaves, roll them with the meat mixture and cook them on the first day. After they’ve cooked, I remove them from the gravy and arrange them in a single layer in baking pans-about 14-15 to a pan. When they have cooled, I wrap them and refrigerate them overnight. I cool the gravy. Then I strain it and chill the liquid and solids separately. The next day, I remove any fat that has risen to the top and then finish the recipe. No way to get around the work involved but it’s easier divided over two days.
By January 6, 2014Published:
- 3 Medium Green Cabbages
- 5 Large Onions peeled
- 4 Pounds chopped steak
- 3 large Eggs Slightly Beaten
- 3 Cups Non-dairy Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Cup Water
- 3 Large Beefsteak Tomatoes
- 1 Box Dark Brown Sugar
- 12 Ounces Non-Dairy Ginger Snaps
- 3 Large Lemons
- 1 6 Quart Soup Pot
- 1 baster
- 1 large stainless steel roaster with Cover
- 1 slotted spoon
- 3-4 baking pans 12 x10 x 2 1/2
- 1 soup ladle
- Remove ragged outer leaves from cabbages. Slice one inch off the stems and cut a deep X into each of them. Put one cabbage head, stem down, into a large soup pot. Add water to cover 3/4 of the cabbage. Bring water to a boil and boil cabbage for 20 minutes. Carefully remove cabbage from boiling water and place it in a colander. Reserve water. Rinse cabbage well with cold water, Separate as many leaves as you can that peel off easily. Return cabbage head to hot water and boil again for 10 minutes longer. Remove cabbage, rinse with cold water and peel off more leaves. Repeat process until most of the leaves have been peeled off the cabbage. Do the same thing with the remaining cabbages. Drain the cabbage leaves very well.
- While cabbages are boiling, chop two onions finely. Slice the remaining three onions. Set aside.
- Mix chopped meat with chopped onions, eggs, black pepper, breadcrumbs and water.
- Scatter sliced onions on the bottom of roaster. Chop any remaining pieces of cabbage and scatter them on the bottom of the pan as well.
- To form cabbage rolls: Place one cabbage leaf on a flat surface-stem facing away from you. Make a small log of chopped meat mixture -about two-three inches long depending on the size of the cabbage leaf and lightly packed. Place the log about one inch away from the top of the cabbage leaf. Roll the edge of the leaf over the meat and continue rolling-tucking in the sides until you reach the stem. Place over sliced onions. Repeat this process until all the meat has been rolled. Do not fill the roaster more than two inches away from the top. Start another pan if you have to.
- Slice tomatoes and scatter over cabbage rolls. Fill the roaster with enough water to skim the surface of the cabbage rolls. Bring water to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer cabbage rolls for 90 minutes. Turn the cover askew over the roaster if the gravy begins to spill over the top. After 90 minutes, carefully remove the cover. Gently, with a slotted spoon, remove cabbage rolls and arrange them in a single layer in baking pans.
- To finish the recipe in one day: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grind gingersnaps. Add ground cookies, lemon juice and brown sugar to gravy. Stir well. Taste. Add more lemon juice or brown sugar if needed. Ladle gravy over cabbage rolls. I get about five cups of gravy per baking pan. Reserve any leftover gravy in a separate container.
- Place baking pans on top two levels in oven. Bake for two hours or more, basting every 15 minutes until gravy has thickened and stuffed cabbage is glazed. Serve hot! Enjoy
- To complete recipe the next day: Cool cabbage rolls and gravy (liquid and solids) separately and refrigerate overnight. Remove fat from gravy. Pulverize gingersnaps. Bring liquid gravy to a boil, add ground cookies, lemon juice and brown sugar. Now, stir in the sliced onions and cabbage from the gravy. Stir well and taste. Adjust seasoning with more lemon juice and/or brown sugar if desired. Ladle gravy over cabbage rolls ( I get about five cups of gravy per baking pan) and bake in preheated oven on top twp levels- basting every 15 minutes as described above.
- To freeze: Cool stuffed cabbage completely. Cover with waxed paper and foil and place in freezer. I like to label each pan telling me how many cabbage rolls I have in each one. Defrost for several hours before reheating.