Cabbage rolls appear in some form in almost every culture and whether they're Polish, Russian, Irish, Dutch, or some other ethnic incarnation, I don't think there's a cabbage roll we haven't enjoyed.
Start by putting a large pot of water on to boil. While the water is heating, remove the outer leaves from a head of cabbage and cut out the core from the bottom. It's difficult to get the whole core out and you don't have to, just remove a good chunk of it. When the water is boiling, carefully lower the cabbage head into it (try not to splash yourself!) and allow it to blanch for a minute.
While the leaves are cooling, mix up the stuffing. When doing a large batch like this I like to use a basic, well seasoned sausage to start. After I have a tray full of "plain" rolls, I'll add some fresh chopped sage for the next batch. After that I might mix in chopped cranberries and walnuts. In the end I'll have several trays of cabbage rolls, each holding a different flavor of stuffing. You can vary them any way you want by adding your favorite seasonings.
To do a batch for dinner, start with a pound of your favorite sausage and mix in a cup of instant rice. I use instant rice because I continually had bad results with regular rice coming out undercooked and crunchy. I use instant brown rice now anytime I'm stuffing something this way. The amount of rice can be varied too. If you want to really stretch your sausage, add more rice. If you want it to be more meat-centric, add less. You can also go vegetarian or vegan with this and stuff the rolls with your favorite grain or soy stuffing.
Mix the sausage and rice, and any seasoning additions thoroughly.
Lay one of the cabbage leaves with the base towards you and cut out the thickest part of the rib. It'll come out like a little triangle (the chickens LOVE these!).
To cook them, pour a bit of tomato sauce, tomato juice, or spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a deep pot. I used my home made pizza sauce this time because I made waaay more than we needed last year. Lay in the rolls seam side down and layer if necessary. Cover the rolls with more tomato sauce (or whatever your using) and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and turn down to a very slow simmer for an hour and a half. These are great served up with a hard grated cheese, crusty bread and green salad. Michael and I really like the rolls cooked in tomato sauce but don't be limited to that. Chicken or vegetable stock are good choices too, especially if your filling has taken a decidedly Asian or Middle eastern swing.
To preserve them, wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap and return to the tray. When all the rolls are wrapped put the trays in the freezer and freeze until solid. Remove from the trays and bag according to type. Label, date, and return to the freezer.
|The jars in the corners of the tray allow me to stack another tray on top.|
I also do this with peppers when they come in. These are about as close to instant work-free winter meals as you can get and great for last minute dinner parties as well.