Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls – Tasty Tuesday!

Way back in the day, I had cabbage rolls for the first time.  It was when I was doing the supper swap with some of my neighbors before our schedules got too hectic.  One comes from a Polish background and that was a meal she provided one week.  It was beyond delicious, and the wee ones both loved it, too.

She promised that one day we’d get together and make them, but she also warned that it’s an all day process.  Somehow we never found the time.  At the Polish buffet we like, they have cabbage rolls that Little Miss and I enjoy, but I still keep having this dream in my head of cabbage rolls at home, though I don’t want to spend all day.

So I didn’t.  I will fully admit that I cheated, but these were just as good and hit the spot for us all.  Even Mister Man – he of the “I don’t like it” before I try it – enjoyed it.  Personally, I like my cabbage a little more al dente than a lot of people, so adjust that to your liking, but otherwise… enjoy!

Unstuffed cabbage rolls ready to eat

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients:
1 c rice
2 1/2 c chicken stock
4 c cabbage, large chopped (about 3/4 of a small head)
1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
1 t pepper
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T brown sugar
1 1/2 T vinegar
4 c crushed tomatoes (or prepared tomato sauce)
1 14 oz can tomato sauce

Directions:
Begin cooking the rice.  I use a rice maker, which means I add the rice and the stock and press start.  You can also do it on the stove by bringing the mixture to a boil, then turning it down to simmer for 15-20 minutes after it boils, placing a folded kitchen towel between the pot and the lid to allow steam to release but maintain temperature (keeping the towel away from any flame or heat source obviously).

If you like your cabbage well cooked, add the cabbage as soon as you turn on the heat or at the beginning or the rice cooker cycle.  If you want it a little more al dente like me, add it after the rice boils and you turn it down to simmer or about 15 minutes into the rice cooker cycle.  Simply pile the cabbage atop the rice without stirring anything so that it steams.

Simply place the cabbage atop the rice

While the rice is cooking, start on the filling.  Brown your ground beef with the pepper, breaking the meat into crumbles, until it is no longer pink.  Drain it thoroughly and place in a medium casserole dish, but save about 1 T of the grease to cook the onion in.  Add the onion and cook on medium high to get some sweetness and caramelization happening.

Onions should start to change color but not burn

Once the onion is translucent, add the garlic (you used fresh garlic now that you know how to peel garlic, right?).  As the onion gains a little color, add the brown sugar and stir well.  After a couple minutes to allow the sugar to melt and add some more flavor, add the crushed tomatoes or prepared tomato sauce, the can of tomato sauce, and the vinegar.  Stir well and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

When the rice is done, you can see that the cabbage is also steamed and has lost some volume.  Using tongs, remove the cabbage leaves and set them aside.  A little rice might come with it, which isn’t a big deal, but this is why you didn’t stir anything earlier.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Add the rice to the ground beef and stir well.  Once the tomato sauce has simmered to cook out any raw taste and allow the flavors to meld a bit, spoon just enough into the ground beef mixture to get it wet enough that it sticks together a bit.

Just enough sauce gets added to make the filling come together

Place the cabbage leaves atop the ground beef mixture, forming a thick layer.  Spoon the remainder of the tomato sauce atop the cabbage, being sure to cover all the leaves so they don’t burn.

unstuffed cabbage rolls ready to bake

Bake the casserole for 15 minutes in your oven, then serve immediately.

Little Miss with unstuffed cabbage rolls

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 c rice
  • 2 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 4 c cabbage, large chopped (about 3/4 of a small head)
  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 T vinegar
  • 4 c crushed tomatoes (or prepared tomato sauce)
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce

Instructions

  1. Begin cooking the rice. I use a rice maker, which means I add the rice and the stock and press start. You can also do it on the stove by bringing the mixture to a boil, then turning it down to simmer for 15-20 minutes after it boils, placing a folded kitchen towel between the pot and the lid to allow steam to release but maintain temperature (keeping the towel away from any flame or heat source obviously).
  2. If you like your cabbage well cooked, add the cabbage as soon as you turn on the heat or at the beginning or the rice cooker cycle. If you want it a little more al dente like me, add it after the rice boils and you turn it down to simmer or about 15 minutes into the rice cooker cycle. Simply pile the cabbage atop the rice without stirring anything so that it steams.
  3. While the rice is cooking, start on the filling. Brown your ground beef with the pepper, breaking the meat into crumbles, until it is no longer pink. Drain it thoroughly and place in a medium casserole dish, but save about 1 T of the grease to cook the onion in. Add the onion and cook on medium high to get some sweetness and caramelization happening.
  4. Once the onion is translucent, add the garlic. As the onion gains a little color, add the brown sugar and stir well. After a couple minutes to allow the sugar to melt and add some more flavor, add the crushed tomatoes or prepared tomato sauce, the can of tomato sauce, and the vinegar. Stir well and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. When the rice is done, you can see that the cabbage is also steamed and has lost some volume. Using tongs, remove the cabbage leaves and set them aside. A little rice might come with it, which isn't a big deal, but this is why you didn't stir anything earlier.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Add the rice to the ground beef and stir well. Once the tomato sauce has simmered to cook out any raw taste and allow the flavors to meld a bit, spoon just enough into the ground beef mixture to get it wet enough that it sticks together a bit.
  8. Place the cabbage leaves atop the ground beef mixture, forming a thick layer. Spoon the remainder of the tomato sauce atop the cabbage, being sure to cover all the leaves so they don't burn.
  9. Bake the casserole for 15 minutes in your oven, then serve immediately.
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Comments

  1. Oh wow! This looks delish. I wonder if I could use cauliflower-rice instead of real rice, that would make it low carb for me. I’ve never had a cabbage roll, but I do love cabbage. I’ll have to add it to my list of dishes I want to try to make low carb!

    • It was good – and you could sub the rice with anything. I know there are plenty of people who make cabbage rolls without any rice, but I like the additional texture it provides. Cauliflower rice would definitely work. Go for it, and I’d love to hear what you think!

  2. This sounds and looks scrumptious and I’ve already printed it out for a dinner next week.

  3. Kelly Wicker says:

    What kind of vinager?

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