stuffed cabbage rolls

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Savoy,

As you know it's report card time. I wanted to take a moment and write to you about Stuffed. He's a good kid and has lots of potential, but he is lacking a little... oh, what is the word, je ne sais qua? I think he made friends with Spice and Acidity, he would go far in the world.

Mrs. Guerrero


It is report card time around the Evil Chef Mom household. While everything is good around here but when I was a kid 'she has a lot of potential but lacks focus' was bandied about a lot. You can probably still say that now.

Why? All sorts of reasons really. The fact that I am posting this recipe as is instead of perfecting it. Call me truthful, call me lazy but I hate, I mean, HATE with a fire of a thousand suns when recipes get stuck in my head like little earworms, I give in to my inner earworm make the damn recipe and it's BLAH. I hate that all the components taste good but then in the end something is lacking. I hate putting in a lot of time for a fussy recipe and get so-so results. I HATE that bloggers make it all look so easy and so good when sometimes that is not the case. I mean if you come here don't I have a duty to say "Hey! I made this and it was okaaaaay but not like fantaaaaastic. So beware of this recipe and if you do make it maybe just maybe you should consider doing this and this and this." This recipe was good not great. It needs more. I will be making it again with adjustments but for now I want to post it as is. Because me and the cabbage rolls are bestest buds, we lack potential but we can get there with teamwork. (You do hear the snarkiness, right? Because in real life you can not be friend with a cabbage roll. It might get a little messy and stinky.)

stuffed savoy cabbage: martha stewart living, january 2010

tomato sauce:

1 can (28 oz.) of ground tomatoes
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes


1 head Savoy cabbage
12 ounces lean ground chuck
12 ounces of ground pork
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon hot paprika

(now if this was my recipe, i would take out some of the hamburger and add either chorizo or linguica and add more hot paprika to the mix. and to finish it off right before serving i would squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over the top)

make the tomato sauce:

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thick, about 20 minutes. Season with salt. Let cool completely.

make the cabbage:

Bring a pot of large salted water to a boil. Add cabbage head, and cook until outer leaves are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Peel outer leaves and drain. Return remaining cabbage to water, and repeat until all leaves are cooked and removed. (I only had to do this once.) Pat each leaf dry with a kitchen towel. Select 12 large light-green leaves. Reserve remaining leaves for another use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using two forks, gently stir beef, pork, rice, onion, parsley, paprika, and 1 tablespoon of salt.

Working with 1 leaf at a time, trim thick part of rib with a paring knife, leaving leaf intact. Arrange about 1/2 cup of filling (less for smaller leaves) in center of each leaf. Fold stem end of cabbage over filling. Fold in sides of cabbage. Carefully roll cabbage over to form a package, overlapping ends to seal. (IN OTHER WORDS.... FOLD IT LIKE A BURRITO) Transfer each, seam side down, to a large, shallow baking dish.

Spread sauce over stuffed cabbage leaves. Cover with foil, and bake until cooked through and cabbage is tender, about 1 hour.

Tasting Notes: Like I said good, as in happy to have a hot meal, but not knock your socks off great. I really thinking adding some chorizo or linguica and some acid at the end will make this dish awesome.


Da Bee's Knees said...

Garlic! Everything is better with garlic!

I agree... add the sausage AND some garlic.

Now... I want stuffed cabbage.

judy mccurry said...

Any Martha Stewart recipe I've cooked has been just so-so.

Waverly said...

I agree with you: it IS so annoying to spend your time making something that is supposed to be delicious only to find that it is terribly ordinary and bland. It is also aggravating when you DO make something delicious and your family turns up their nose!
I just chalk it up to lessons learned and move on.

noble pig said...

I grew up on this stuff being of Polish descent. It's one of my greatest food memories.

Lisa S. said...

I agree with the first two posters here, garlic will help, tasting and adjusting will help and most of all - don't use a Martha recipe, cause they often turn out just so-so. They always take forever to fix, dirty every pot and pan in your kitchen and then for what ever reason, just taste so-so. Meh...

Melissa said...

Love the honesty. Of course.

And this made me laugh: "Carefully roll cabbage over to form a package, overlapping ends to seal. (IN OTHER WORDS.... FOLD IT LIKE A BURRITO)"

It's like, the first is what Martha would day, the second what we plain folk would say. Funny.

dana said...

er, not to brag :), but i'd like to offer mine to be tested: i think you'll befriend the heck out of this one: http://arhivafleurdesel.blogspot.com/2010/01/romanian-holiday-fare.html because it brings together all the tastes you say you missed in that one, please take a look!
very glad i stumbled here, i love your blog, will follow closely!

Neen said...

I definitely agree with the above -- add more garlic! My grandmother was a war bride from Prussia and tells awful stories about having nothing but cabbage to eat during the war. She literally will not touch the stuff. I had all but given up on stuffed cabbage, until I realized that anything bland is better when done Bollywood-style! Madhur Jaffrey has a jaw droppingly good version of stuffed cabbage that I made back when I first started blogging. If you ever decide to give Savoy another shot, try this:

Anonymous said...

First of all...love, love, love this blog!
With a Polish Grandma,right off the boat-literally, this was not an uncommon dish for me growing up...was actually a staple at Thanksgiving (go figure)
Anyway, Gram is gone now and Mom has taken over the stuffing of the cabbage...
She hasn't changed the recipe, it was perfection, but she has started doing one step a bit differently...
Rather than boil the head of cabbage, peel leaves off, return to water...she puts the head of cabbage in the freezer! Pull it out, let it thaw, and voila! wilted leaves and no burns!