Maybe it's someone's mom's stuffed cabbage, but as J-Cat so tactfully informed me upon tasting it, it's not his mom's. I wasn't exactly thrilled with that statement, but in all fairness I don't think he necessarily meant that he didn't like it. I think he just meant that it was not the same style as his mom's. Of course, I've never tasted his mom's stuffed cabbage, nor seen the recipe, so I have no idea what her's is like. Thus, I was obviously not shooting for that. I also know better than to even attempt to compete with someone's mom's way of doing things, obviously I understand the sanctity of moms' cooking. All I know is that apparently she does the raisin thing, and I'm not into that. The deli downstairs does the raisins in stuffed cabbage thing, and I'm not a fan. I went a much more straightforward route with these, I made the stuffed cabbage I thought I would like best, based on many years of ardent stuffed cabbage fandom.
This is what I want from my stuffed cabbage:
1. Beef, not pork
2. Tomato sauce, not gravy
3. Good rice to meat ratio
4. No raisins
My mother never made stuffed cabbage, but as far as I'm concerned, if she did it would probably be a lot like this. Actually, she'd probably put raisins in it, too. Recipe after the jump:
NOT J-CAT'S MOM'S STUFFED CABBAGE
1 head green or Savoy cabbage, about 2 lbs
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, shredded
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 parsnip, shredded
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 to 4 cups tomato sauce
Peel off about a dozen of the largest cabbage leaves and place in a large bowl. Boil a small pot of water and pour the water over the cabbage and let it sit for ten minutes until wilted.
Heat the oil in a large, wide pot. Cook the onions until they are soft, add the carrot, celery and parsnip and saute them for a couple extra minutes — until they are also soft. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool a bit. Mix in the meat, rice and tomato paste and season again with salt and pepper.
Drain the cabbage and pat the leaves dry with paper towels. Cut out the large vein from the cabbage. Roll about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling in each leaf, roll like a burrito, and arrange in the same pot you sauteed the vegetables in. Pour in enough tomato sauce to cover the rolls. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, letting them simmer covered on the stove on low for about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.