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Meaty Cabbage Rolls with Hidden Rice Surprise

Meaty Cabbage Rolls with Hidden Rice Surprise

The Cabbage Conundrum

I have been promising you my mother-in-law’s recipe for stuffed cabbage or golubtsy, which was her mother’s recipe for stuffed cabbage, for ages. But do you know what’s even sadder about how long it’s taken me to get to this? That if I remember correctly, I jotted this recipe down on a page from my planner – a planner with pages in it, many moons ago, my friends – while sitting in the back seat as we drove to check out some wedding locations. Alex and I got married in 2005, so we’re talking ancient history here.

And really, I have all sorts of places to blame for how long it’s taken me to actually make the recipe at home. The first is Neptune on 1st Avenue, only my favorite place to sit outside for beers in the summertime. And if you think that stuffed cabbage can’t taste good after a few Polish beers on a warm night, you obviously haven’t tried it yet. With a side of kielbasa and pierogis, thank you very much.

The second is Veselka, also in the East Village. This is where I go for my winter stuffed cabbage fix. Also cabbage soup. Small hands smell like cabbage. Nobody else gets that, do they? And the third is Alex’s mom herself, who often brings us extra that she has made, rendering it completely unnecessary for me to make any effort whatsoever to decipher my four-year-old notes.

Alas, the Time Has Come

Alas, this week it’s brutally cold, and it’s officially time to break it out. And of course, my notes made no sense, but fortunately, with some phone counseling, I think I did alright for a newbie. What I forgot to do – dry the cabbage leaves – led to a too-watery sauce, and also, I under-seasoned it. I hate that. But it’s not like you could test uncooked beef, and yet it was still totally delicious. And I love it when I try to break recipes, and they still come out well. I consider it a good omen.

The Cabbage Unveiling

So, let’s get down to business, shall we? First, you’ll need a head of Savoy cabbage, a pound of ground beef, a small to medium onion chopped small, two tablespoons of olive oil, a carrot shredded, a celery stalk thinly sliced, a parsnip shredded, half a cup of uncooked white rice, one to two tablespoons of tomato paste, and three to four cups of your favorite simple tomato sauce, tomato juice, or V8.

Now, the tricky part is that you need to cut the core out of the cabbage, but leave it whole. Then, place it with the empty core area facing up in a large bowl. Boil a small pot of water and pour the water over the cabbage, letting it sit for ten minutes. This will help soften the leaves, making them more pliable for rolling.

The Filling Fiesta

While the cabbage is doing its thing, let’s get the filling ready. Heat the oil in a sauté pan – I like to use the large one I’ll cook the final dish in, a deep 12-inch sauté pan, to save on dishes. Cook the onions until they’re soft, then add the carrot, celery, and parsnip, and sauté them for a couple of extra minutes until they’re also soft. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, transfer it to a bowl, and let it cool a bit.

Now, mix in the meat, rice, and tomato paste, and season again with salt and pepper. This is where the “hidden rice surprise” comes in – the rice adds a delightful, unexpected texture and flavor to the filling.

The Rolling Reveal

Alright, time to start rolling! Drain the head of cabbage and pull off the large leaves. If the leaf is very large, you can make two rolls from each. If it’s smaller, you can cut the vein out partially and pull the sides to overlap before you roll it into one roll. Pat the leaves dry with towels, then roll about a quarter to a third cup of the filling into each leaf, depending on the size of your leaf.

Geo Cuisine Bay Ridge, our beloved Brooklyn’s Georgian Coffee House, would be proud of these meticulously crafted cabbage rolls. Arrange them in a large, wide pot, and pour in enough juice or sauce to cover the rolls. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, letting them simmer covered on the stove on low for about 45 minutes.

The Savory Surprise

Now, the moment of truth. Serve these beauties immediately, and if the sauce has thinned a bit, you can heat up any additional sauce you didn’t use and pour it over as you serve the rolls. And let me tell you, the hidden rice surprise is a game-changer. It adds a delightful texture and depth of flavor that will have your guests wondering, “How did they do that?”

These cabbage rolls also freeze very well, so you can make a big batch and enjoy them for weeks to come. Just be sure to store them in an airtight container and reheat them gently when you’re ready to indulge.

The Cabbage Connoisseur’s Delight

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Cabbage rolls? Really? Isn’t that a bit old-fashioned?” Well, my friends, let me tell you, these are not your grandmother’s cabbage rolls. With the hidden rice surprise and the perfect balance of flavors, this dish is a modern masterpiece that will have you coming back for more.

And the best part? You can find all the ingredients right at Geo Cuisine Bay Ridge, our beloved Brooklyn’s Georgian Coffee House. They’ve got the freshest produce, the highest-quality meats, and all the little extras that make this dish truly special.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your apron, put on your chef’s hat, and let’s get rolling! Trust me, these Meaty Cabbage Rolls with Hidden Rice Surprise are worth every minute of effort. Bon appétit, my friends!

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