Wrap Me Up In Cabbage

I've been hearing a lot about how I need to be more positive this week. I'm starting to wonder if my resting B face is turning people away from my beautifully sarcastic, yet happily giving soul. Still, I'm game for constructive criticism (except about my shower singing, because I'm f***ing epic at shower singing). There may be a few things that I need to work on personally. It's a thing. So, I've decided to start by turning something I can't stand into something yummy and beautiful as part of my efforts to radiate a little more sunshine.

I haven't made stuffed cabbage in a long time because I'm not a fan of the heavy red sauce that most recipes I've found tend to smother them in. But I love the stuffing, so I did a little research (actually a lot of research) and found some older recipes from Finland that actually serve the cabbage rolls with lingonberries. Since I was fresh out of lingonberries*, I decided to make this sauce with cranberries. 

*Okay, fine! I have no idea what a lingonberry even looks like.

A lot of people will try to separate the leaves of a cabbage while it's still raw and uncut. I've found it's easier to core the cabbage first, then parboil it to loosen the leaves. You don't have to worry about the leaves tearing and double bonus they soften enough for you to roll them immediately.

Make sure the water comes about halfway to two-thirds up the sides of the cabbage. You're going to start with the bottom of the cabbage submerged, then rotate the cabbage every 2-3 minutes to ensure all sides are cooked. You may not use the whole head on this recipe, so you can save the rest for cabbage soup or saute it with butter as a snack while you wait for this to cook.

Photo by Charisma
 This recipe uses a basic tomato concasse, which is snobby cooking speak for crushed or ground tomatoes. It's super easy to do though. First, use a small knife to remove the stem.

Cut a small X in the skin on the bottom of the tomato.

Place the tomatoes in a small pan of boiling water for 1-3 minutes until the skin starts to crack and loosen.

I didn't take a picture but drop the tomatoes in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Remove the skin with your fingers or a small knife. (Honestly, the skin slides off so easily you shouldn't need the knife.)

For this recipe, I pulsed the tomatoes in a food processor until pureed. Other recipes might only require a rough chop.

Sauteing the cauliflower in butter adds a little flavor and softens it, so it's easier to to roll in the cabbage.

Combine the cauliflower with the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Just like with the Baked Meatballs recipe, resist the urge to squeeze the ingredients together. (I know, I know. I can't resist the fun, squishy feeling between my fingers too, but we must control ourselves.)

Whisk the cranberry sauce and tomato puree together.

Admit it, we all wanted to work at Chipotle at some point. Well, here's your chance. Roll that cabbage up like a burrito.

Since this is a braised recipe, make sure you line the pan with some of the sauce. Set the rolls on top of the sauce seam side down.

Cover with the remaining sauce. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 45 minutes.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Cranberry Sauce

You Will Need:

1 head of cabbage, cored, leaves separated
1 1/2 c cauliflower, riced
1 Tbsp butter
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb pork sausage
1/2 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, grated
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp caraway seeds, toasted and crushed*
1 tsp dried dill
1 lb tomato concasse
1 c cranberry sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using a small knife, cut the core out of the cabbage. Place bottom down in a pan of water. Make sure the water comes halfway up the sides. Bring to a simmer. Rotate the cabbage in the water to loosen the leaves. Remove the cabbage from the water to separate the leaves.

Saute the cauliflower in butter until slightly softened. Salt and pepper to taste. In a mixing bowl, combine with meat, garlic, onion, rosemary, caraway seed, dill, and 1/4 tomato concasse and more salt and pepper. 

Whisk together the remaining tomato and cranberries. Pour 1 c of the sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish.

Fill the end of one cabbage leaf with 1/4 c of the mixture. Roll up like a burrito** and place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Continue until all of the mixture has been rolled into cabbage leaves. Pour remaining sauce on top of the rolls. 

Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the meat is cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Cranberry sauce***
1 lb fresh cranberries
1 large orange, juiced and zested
2-3 Tbsp honey
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick

In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange juice and zest, honey, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick. Simmer over low heat until the berries have popped and the mixture has gelled. Chill and serve.

*I'm a cheapskate so I don't own an spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. What I do have is a kitchen mallet and a lot of pent up anger. Embrace your inner Hulk and unleash the beast on those caraway seeds. You only need to break them apart a little, so if they aren't perfectly ground don't even worry about it.
**Think of all those times you watch the Chipotle guys roll a burrito, or if you're like me, all those times you rolled your cat in the blankets and called him a purr-ito. I mean, if you can roll an 8 pound ball of judgement and fur into a blanket without being scratched apart, you can totally roll one of these babies.
***This recipe is your freedom from that awkward canned jelly you usually bring to Thanksgiving dinner. Show your pushy mother-in-law, who always tells you to bring the cranberry sauce because she secretly (or openly) doubts you abilities to make even the simplest of dishes to sustain her baby boy, that you know a thing or two in the kitchen. But I digress.


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