For me, the easiest way to collect tender leaves suitable for stuffing was to core the cabbage, and boil the head. Remove when the exterior leaves are tender,peel them off, then return the head to the pot.Continue in this vein. There are other ways, but this way worked best for me.
Disclaimer: This is not a recipe you can whip up in 30 minutes. This is a Polish Grandmother Recipe. And anyone who is a Polish Grandmother, or anyone who has a Polish Grandmother, or anyone (like me) who lives next door to a Polish Grandmother, knows that Polish Grandmother Recipes can’t be completed in less than thirty minutes.
But was my time spent on the following recipe worth it? I thought so. Absolutely. And so did my panel of expert eaters, who demanded the recipe. Here are some tips I learned in dividing up the prep for this recipe into manageable bites.
I made the tomato sauce a few days ahead, and the meat mixture 24 hours in advance. (I’ve also made the stuffed leaves and frozen them before baking. After a six week hiatus in the freezer, I thawed them, baked them and then enjoyed them.)
Cut out the tough center vein.
The only thing that I found to be a pain in the rear, was peeling off the cabbage leaves as they tenderized in boiling water. That’s a big head of cabbage to keep extracting and plopping back into boiling water. Wear rubber gloves.
My girlfriend, Janet disagrees. Says its easy. While boiling the cabbage, simply flick off the leaves and put them in a pan as they become tender. No need to keep removing the head from the water. I asked my friend if she had actually tried this flick method. She said, no, she saw it on TV. Martha Stewart makes the preparation of Molten Lava Cake look as easy as making a PB&J. You see my point.
Place rolled leaves seam side down.
Another Disclaimer: Your Polish Grandmother’s recipe for cabbage rolls may be different than mine. After all, my Polish Grandmother is fictional, a character in my next novel. And she’s passed away, at that. In the book, however, memories of her integrity influence her granddaughters as they struggle to keep their Detroit diner afloat. I made several different batches of cabbage leaves and decided that this recipe is what my Babcia makes. To my palate, as well as hers and her granddaughters, they are exquisite.
Before covering in foil and baking.
My next-door neighbor, Krystina, is a non-fiction, flesh and blood, Polish Grandmother who was raised in Poland. Her cabbage leaves are smaller, more delicate and have less stuffing and ingredients than the recipe below.
Delicious, most assuredly, but they are different. She tsk, tsked my recipe. Said they were too bulky. Hey! It’s a big world! You can’t pick a battle with a fictional Polish Grandmother! Especially one who’s passed away and is not able to defend herself. There’s plenty of room for every Polish Grandmother Recipe for cabbage rolls on the web.
By the way, it’s that time of year. You’ll find my favorite holiday recipes by clicking the gold holiday ball in the right hand column.
On Sunday’s journey back from Utah (an impromptu trip utilizing a free AMEX companion plane ticket), while poring over photographs taken hiking Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, I lamented that I forget to take my wide-angle lens. Still. I could never capture Ansel Adam‘s American West no matter how many strings of cameras I roped around … Full recipe post »
So I’m reading this article and recipe in the New York Times (by Sam Sifton) who described making Nora Ephron’s Fancy Meatloaf that inspired me to write about and make this recipe – with my changes – which was concerning, as I wondered if the end product would be too meta to eat. Mr. Sifton … Full recipe post »
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