Stuffed cabbage is one of my favorite winter dishes. This recipe is adapted from one my Aunt Joan learned to make from one of her Polish neighbors. It takes some time to prepare so it is a perfect snowy day, stay-at-home kitchen project, or you can break the steps down into two days by softening the cabbage leaves the day before you need them, keeping them chilled in the refrigerator. You can also make the rice ahead of time, as it should be cold for the filling. I used the last of the Savoy cabbage from our garden in this one and it made the dish very sweet. Note that the recipe makes more filling than you need, so take the leftover filling and use it for a meatloaf or freeze it for another use.
Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage
2 large heads Savoy cabbage (use 10 of the largest leaves from each head)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. raw long grain rice
2 c. water
Bring a 6-quart stockpot full of water to a boil. While the water is heating gently remove 10 large leaves from each head (save the rest for another use). If the cabbage leaves are difficult to remove without tearing, leave the head whole, removing the bottom core. Once the water is boiling set the cabbage leaves or whole head in the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon. Run under cold water, then set individual leaves in a colander to drain. Place leaves in plastic bag and chill, preferably overnight. Cook the rice in 2 cups of water (add a little salt to the water) until tender (about 20-25 minutes) and chill as well. You will use 1/2 c. cooked rice for the filling. Save the rest for another use.
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium leek, washed and minced
1/2 c. cold cooked long grain rice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. warm water
1-1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. chopped fresh dill (optional)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1-1/4 lbs. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground beef
In a sauté pan heat olive oil and, when hot, add shallots. Sauté 3 minutes to soften. Then add leeks and cook 3 more minutes to soften. Cool. You should have 2/3 c. cooked vegetables. Remove one-half of the leek and shallot mixture for the filling. (Leave the remaining vegetables in the sauté pan for the sauce.) In a large bowl mix together the shallot and leek mixture, rice, eggs, water, salt and pepper, fresh garlic , onion powder, garlic powder, dill, thyme and paprika. Stir until well mixed. Add the pork and beef. Mix well but don’t handle too much. You want to keep the filling tender. Set aside.
1/3 c. sautéed shallot and leek mixture
2 (10 oz.) cans Campbell’s tomato soup
2 soup cans full of water
2/3 c. rinsed and drained sauerkraut (I like Steinfeld’s brand)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the sauté pan containing the remaining cooked shallot and leek mixture. Add tomato soup, water, and sauerkraut. Stir to mix. Bring to a simmer and let simmer 10 minutes. Set aside until the cabbage leaves are stuffed.
Stuffing the Cabbage:
Take a large cabbage leaf. Cut out the thick bottom rib of each leaf so you can lay the cabbage flat. Place 2 Tbsp. or more of meat filling in the center. Fold in the sides of the cabbage leaf into the center of the meat filling, then roll from the bottom stem up. Repeat until you use up all of the 20 cabbage leaves.
Using a 5-1/2 to 6-quart slow cooker, place 1 cup tomato sauce on the bottom so the cabbage does not burn. Set one layer of stuffed cabbage on top of the sauce. Use the largest rolls on the bottom. Add 1 c. sauce on top of the cabbage. Add a third layer of cabbage along with the remaining sauce. Place the lid on the slow cooker. Turn on high and cook for 4 hours or until the cabbage rolls are very soft and meltingly tender. Makes 20 rolls to serve 6-8 people.
Uncooked Stuffed Cabbage
Layered Stuffed Cabbage in the Slow Cooker