This dish is intended to be cooked in a slow-cooker. I can remember only one other time in my whole cooking-lifetime that I made stuffed cabbage rolls, and they, too, were cooked in a slow-cooker. On reading this recipe I was intrigued by the promise of sweet – sour combination of flavors, so I decided to give it a try.
First off, let me confess that I don’t know my way around cabbage very well. Mostly what I do with it is make coleslaw, and I let my processor do the shredding for me. I also sometimes coarsely shred it with a knife to cook with Kielbasa. That’s about the extent of my cabbage repertoire. So what I’m trying to say is that I’m not very adept at shaping and rolling a filling into a cabbage leaf. If you are someone who can do this very well, please don’t laugh when you see the photos of my endeavors. After all, pretty doesn’t taste any better, does it?
Secondly, there are several steps involved in getting everything ready to go into the crockpot–the recipe predicts a prep time of 20 minutes–but it took me much longer, about 30 – 45 minutes. Plan ahead if you are going to make this, or assemble it the night before and start cooking in the morning.
- 1 small – medium head of green cabbage
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced. I used a large shallot.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cans tomato sauce, ( 8 ounce each)
- 2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 slices reduced-calorie wheat bread. I used one multi-grain wheat thin.
- 1/3 cup skim milk
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups cooked egg noodles
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil cabbage 12 – 15 minutes, then drain well. Carefully remove outer leaves–you will need about 12. Remove tough stem from each leaf and set aside. Shred the remaining cabbage and place in the bottom of the slow-cooker.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non stick skillet over medium heat; cook onion 5 minutes.
Add garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg; cook 1 minute. Remove half of this mixture and set aside.
Stir tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar into skillet and remove from heat.
3. In a processor, pulse bread and milk until a paste is formed. Add reserved onion mixture, beef, salt and pepper and pulse until well combined.
4. With stem ends of cabbage leaves facing you, place 2 heaping Tablespoons of meat mixture in center of each leaf and roll up.
5. Place rolls, seam-side down, in slow cooker. Pour sauce over all.
Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours. Serve with egg noodles.
Our assessment of this recipe: First I think the name of this dish is a misnomer; the flavor is more sweet than sour, but not overly sweet. Secondly, we both thought the meat filling was very compact and dense. If I were to make this again, I would not mix the filling in a processor, but instead in a bowl, like making meatloaf. It would then be lighter and more textured, perhaps adding some cooked white rice would help. The tomato sauce was flavorful with a faint hint of the cinnamon, which I thought complemented the cabbage. When we ate the leftovers, I thought the whole dish tasted better the second time around, and the meat filling was more moist.
SOURCE: Family Circle Magazine, November, 2012: Slow Cooker Suppers