Stuffed Cabbage (or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls) has Eastern European roots, however many countries have a variation of this dish. The concept is using cabbage leaves to wrap a protein mixture, typically beef.
Ocean's stuffed cabbage recipe features an island flare by using locally sourced ingredients including Smoke Pork and Big Island raised beef! By using modified additions (break out a bottle of Ragu!), this is an easy to follow recipe for a yummy family dinner.
1 Cup Smoke Meat/Pork, sliced (substitute with Bacon or Prosciutto)
1/2 Whole Onion, diced
3 Whole Tomatoes, diced
24 oz (1 Bottle) Marinara Sauce
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste
For Stuffed Cabbage:
1-1/2 lbs Ground Beef
2 Cups Cooked White Rice, preferably Long Grain
8 oz Ali'i Mushrooms, minced
1 Cup Bell Peppers, small diced
Garlic Salt, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 Whole Head Cabbage, blanched
INSTRUCTIONS *Our written instructions for this recipe may not detail the preparation process with clarity. If you find any portion confusing - we apologize! It's a bit complex to put into words without visuals :) We recommend watching the video at the end of this post!
Begin by preparing your sauce. Set a pot on medium heat. Once the pot is hot, add smoke pork and garlic and simmer for about 2-minutes.
Next, add onions and sweat. This should take a couple more minutes - you will know the onions are ready once they turn translucent.
Add tomatoes and simmer for another 2-3 minutes, then pour in bottle of marinara. Place a lid on your pot and let simmer on low heat while you prepare the stuffed cabbage.
In a mixing bowl, combine ground beef, bell peppers and minced mushrooms (blend mushrooms in a food processor to get a fine mince).
Next, add fully cooked white rice to the mixture and fold until combined. Season with garlic salt, salt and pepper (to taste) - mix again until seasonings are now combined.
Take your beef mixture and separate into approximate 4 oz portions until all of the mixture is used. Form each portion into rectangular log patties - be sure to flatten until each patty is no more than 1 - 1/2 inches in height. You'll also want to check that all patties look similar in shape, portion and size so they all cook through evenly.
Next, take a blanched cabbage leaf and place flat on a cutting board. (For instructions on how to blanch and prepare your cabbage, see below). It is best to start with the base of the leaf nearest you. Place one beef patty on the center-bottom portion of the cabbage leaf. Fold both left and right side edges in to cover the patty, then roll (moving away from you - like a burrito) until patty is completely wrapped by cabbage. Be sure not to wrap too tight to avoid changing the flattened-log patty shape. Secure cabbage around the beef patty by sticking a toothpick through the center of your wrap. Continue until all patties are wrapped with cabbage.
Place all stuffed cabbage rolls into a large saute pan. Next, it's time to add your sauce that's been simmering! Use a ladle to spoon your prepared marinara sauce into saute pan, covering all stuffed cabbage. Be sure all cabbage rolls are completely covered with sauce (this will assist in thoroughly cooking beef). Cover pan with a lid, set fire to medium-low and allow to cook for another 30-35 minutes.
After 30-35 minutes, check to see that stuffed cabbage has cooked through by cutting one in half. If cooked properly, turn off heat and be sure to remove all toothpicks from stuffed cabbage. Add additional seasoning or top with fresh parsley if needed/desired.
Serve and enjoy!
How to blanch cabbage:
Bring a pot of water to boil in a large pot.
Take a whole head of cabbage and remove any bruised outer leaves. On a cutting board, place cabbage on its side or flip upside down to easily access the base and core.
Remove the hard center core of the cabbage by carefully making incisions around the core, then removing. You should be left with a cabbage head that has a hollow center that runs a couple inches deep into the cabbage.
Place cored cabbage into the boiling water. Blanch for 5-minutes, then remove. Place in a bowl and allow cabbage to cool and drain.
Once blanched cabbage is cool to the touch, place on a cutting board and begin peeling away each leaf. Be careful not to rip any leaves as these will serve as your "wrappers".
Once you have enough leaves (around 8-10), it's time to de-bone. To do this, take a small knife and skim the spine of cabbage (primarily at the base end) to remove the thick spine. This will leave the leaf pliable and easy to work with. Now, your cabbage is ready to be stuffed!
For a simple visual tutorial, see Ocean's video below that demonstrates this recipe as well as cabbage blanching process.
WATCH THE TUTORIAL: