Alright, so tonight is another comfort food night, but this time.. comfort food, polish edition. When I was a kid growing up there were a few foods that we only had on special occasions. I’m pretty sure it was because making enough for 4 of us was time consuming, but when you’re cooking for just two, it’s not nearly so bad.
Well first things, first. Start off with a head of cabbage. Try to pick a big one because the tiny leaves will make pathetic rolls. I bought farmers market cabbage so I ended up with a tiny one. I didn’t really think about the dynamics of this until afterwards. Thankfully I was able to get enough leaves for like 14 or 16 rolls. More than enough for two.
Well, you’ve got to boil the cabbage. No slicing, no cutting it off the core.. just put the whole thing in some boiling water for about a half hour. that will ensure that the leaves are all soft enough that when you wrap it, they don’t crack open.
Once your cabbage is in the pot, you’ll wanna cook up about a cup (uncooked) of white rice. Once the rice is cooked, you’ll wanna combine with a pound of ground beef. I used 85/15 from whole foods. I like knowing my beef got to play with some toys before I ate it.
You’ll want to season the meat with salt and pepper. Don’t be shy. This is pretty much the only time you’ll get to season it until it’s on the plate. I added some fresh oregano to this. That’s not strictly part of the recipe. It is what I like to think of as a Michelle Improvement™ but really.. when has any ground beef and tomato mixture not benefited from some oregano?
*fast forward to when the cabbage is done, or rewind, depending on when you started the rice*
You’ll wanna take the cabbage out of the boiling water and get it to a collander in the sink. You may wanna let it cool down a little because it’s going to burn the shit out of your fingers when you start to take the leaves off the cabbage otherwise. Ask me how I know this.
Place the cooled cabbage with the core side up, and slice through the leaves at the top as close to the core as you can. Viola. When you lift the cabbage head up, leaves fall off. The first few from the outside of the cabbage are usually gross looking and/or torn up. Take those few and line the bottom of a metal baking dish.
Why metal? Because my grandmother made it in a metal pan.. my mother made it in a metal pan.. and cause it’s my recipe and I said so. 🙂
So.. now take a leaf with the cut side facing you. Put a small wad of meat/rice/oregano goodness in it. Pull in the two sides and roll outward towards the edge of the leaf. Place the seam side down, taking care to not let the roll touch the edge of the pan. Now do this about 16 more times.
Hey look. A pan full of cabbage rolls. It’s ok if they touch each other but pretend the edges of the pan are lava. You will have ugly torn rolls, otherwise.
Now, open a can of crushed tomatoes. I like san marzano because they’re sweeter, but it’s really up to you. Spread them somewhat liberally over the rolls.
Cover with foil, bake in a 425 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10-ish.
The completed dish should look something like: