The Central Park food stand where the little sailboats are has Amazing stuffed cabbage. You’d swear Bubby was in the back making them by hand.
I was looking for a recipe I liked. Martha Stewart came through. Fortunately, she cooked them on her show, so I could watch the process. Here’s a link to that video and recipe.
I halved the recipe and omitted the pork. Although I was uncomfortable cooking raw meat in vegetables, it turned out beautifully and no one died.
Since Martha’s steps are lacking, this provides more detail.
You can use any type of rice you like. I would try brown rice next time because I think it would add to the texture nicely. I used arborio and it was great. I also had about 1 1/4 cup filling left over, so you definitely want a large cabbage head so you have enough leaves to wrap the filling.
I’m surprised her recipe didn’t include caraway. The cabbage is a blank canvas, so paint it with herbs you adore. And don’t be stingy with the salt! The cabbage needs it.
2 qts water
1 head green cabbage (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 c cooked arborio rice — cooked!
8 oz ground beef
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4c fresh dill, minced
2 celery stalks with leaves, minced
2 c tomato puree
1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
Using a paring knife, remove center core of cabbage. In a large stockpot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add the whole head of cabbage and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until outer leaves are bright green and tender. Lift cabbage from water, and remove outer leaves. Or gently pick the out leaves off with tongs. You’ll use these outermost leaves to line the bottom of the cooking pan.
(While you’re par boiling the head of cabbage, pop the rice in a rice cooker.)
Return the cabbage head to boiling water, and repeat. Gently remove each layer of leaves until all leaves are cooked. When you get to the last 2-3 inches, remove the last of the head from the pot and use for another dish. They are useless for wrapping the meat and rice. Reserve 2 cups cabbage cooking water.
(The rice should be cooked by now.)
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until golden and tender, about 8 minutes. In a large bowl, combine onion mixture, rice, beef, salt, pepper, fresh dill, and celery. Stir to combine.
Now you’re ready to make the cute little cabbage packets. Trim thick center vein from bottom of each leaf. Add about 1/3 cup rice filling to one cabbage leaf. Fold sides of cabbage over filling, and, starting with the stem end, roll the cabbage up. Kind of like a mini burrito. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.
Line a 5-quart Dutch oven with reserved outside leaves. Transfer stuffed cabbage leaves to Dutch oven.
In a large bowl, combine tomato puree and the reserved 2 cups of cabbage cooking water. Pour some of the tomato sauce over cabbage to almost cover. Sprinkle apple over top of cabbage leaves. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a gentle simmer; cover. Cook for 1 hour or until cabbage is very tender, adding additional tomato sauce as needed.