I came across this recipe in my Haverly Family Recipes cookbook (my paternal grandma's family) and immediately my stomach growled! What a perfect meal for a cold winter day -- seasoned meat rolled in cabbage, baked and covered in a cream sauce.
Okay, I skipped the cream sauce for tomato basil, but I kept the rest of the recipe close to the original.
Thinking about this recipe also brought back memories of my time in Romania. When we stayed with some families in a small village, my first meal with my host family was Hungarian-style stuffed cabbage in a pink sauce.
I can't help but remember how satisfying and delicious that meal was, so I had high hopes for my own version of the dish. Since there were only four rolls left out of fourteen, I would call this one a success.
The meat portion is a mixture of beef and pork that is seasoned with allspice, among other things. Don't be scared though -- this little bit of allspice adds another depth to the dish that's very tasty.
This recipe makes quite a few rolls -- up to 18 depending on how large you make your patties. You can either make them all, or roll the remaining meat mixture into patties and freeze for burgers later, which is what I did this time around.
Kaldolmar or Stuffed Cabbage (I've updated the instructions)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 heads of cabbage
1 cup boiled rice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 jar of tomato basil sauce, any brand
OR you can try the original cream sauce
Reserve juices from baking pan. Mix 1 Tablespoon flour and 1/2 cup cream. Add this mix and reserved juices to a pan on med-high heat. Cook until smooth. Serve over rolls.
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook rice according to instructions.
3. While the rice is cooking, go ahead and carefully pull the cabbage leaves off of the head. Rinse and pat dry. Fill a large soup pot with water and set the heat to high; bring to a boil.
4. Boil the leaves for five minutes until wilted and tender. You will need to do this in batches. Remove leaves from the water with tongs and drain.
5. In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, onion, rice, and spices. Mix well.
6. Form the meat into palm-sized patties.
7. Lay flat one of the leaves, stem side down, and place the patty in the center.
8. Roll towards the top of the leaf, tucking in excess bits if necessary.
9. Secure the roll with toothpicks. Repeat with the remaining patties and leaves. Tip: Place the picks so the roll will lay flat on either side.
10. Heat a pan on med-high heat. In batches, brown the cabbage rolls for 4 minutes on each side.
11. Place in an oven-safe dish and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, uncovered. You can put a splash of water in the dish if you would like to create more moisture.
12. About five minutes before the rolls are done, heat your tomato basil sauce in a pan on med-high heat.
13. Remove rolls from oven. Carefully remove toothpicks before plating; top with warm tomato basil sauce.