Saturday mornings in our house usually include, a cup of fresh brewed coffee, maybe some music for background noise and a stack of cookbooks to peruse for meal ideas for the upcoming week. My son will usually be tugging on my PJ’s looking to sit in my lap, which always makes me smile.
After evaluating the weeks activities we usually pick a few of our GO TO meals, which we conveniently keep listed in Evernote (I highly recommend it). Evernote is perfect for storing recipes or even just pictures of recipes, and both are searchable.
I like to try at least one new recipe each week. Those new recipes may just turn into GO TO recipes in the future. I also like to keep things new and fresh. Food boredom is for the birds. I will either choose a specific recipe that excites me or search for inspiration. I might look at 2 or 3 recipes for the same dish and pull out what I believe are the best aspects of each, creating a hybrid of sorts.
This weeks “lets try something new dish” turned out to be stuffed cabbage. We have a new Slow Cooker Essentials cookbook by Williams-Sonoma and have found several great recipes in it. I was a little skeptical at first, but the recipe called for bacon! What’s not to like? It was outstanding! Cabbage isn’t always a family favorite, but the way you slow cook this dish you almost don’t taste the cabbage. Sometimes cabbage dishes can be bitter, not this one! Get out of your comfort zone, take a risk, you won’t regret it!
Stuffed Cabbage – Adapted from – Essentials of Slow Cooking, Williams-Sonoma
Serves 4 to 6
1 Green Cabbage about 2 lbs
1 lb Lean Ground Pork
1/2 cup Cooked Rice (I used brown rice)
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper
4 Slices Bacon
1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 Rib of Celery, Chopped
1 Carrot, Chopped
1 tsp Caraway Seeds
1 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Fill a pot with water large enough to boil the cabbage. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees if you are crunched for time and only have an hour and a half for cooking. 200 degrees if you are going to slow cook the stuffed cabbage for several hours. (I slow cooked mine for 4 hours). Chop your vegetables and set aside. Once the water comes to a boil, place the cabbage in the water and boil for 5 minutes. Once cooked, drain and set the cabbage aside to cool. In a Dutch oven (I use a Le Cruset) cook the bacon over medium heat (don’t let it burn). Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate covered with paper towels. Add your chopped vegetables, the onions, carrots and celery to the Dutch oven and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Remove one or two of the outer leaves from the cooked cabbage and chop, about 1/4 cup. In a bowl add your pork, green onions, rice, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp Pepper, the 1/4 cup of chopped cabbage and a beaten egg. Mix all of the ingredients together with your clean hands. As the Barefoot Contessa would say “the two best tools in the kitchen.”
Once the vegetables are soft, add to the Dutch oven the caraway seeds, crushed tomatoes, red wine vinegar and the bacon crumbled. Simmer over low heat.
The cabbage should be cool enough to begin peeling the leaves from the cabbage. Carefully peel off about 12 leaves. depending on how much of the pork mixture you put in each cabbage leaf, you may only yield 8 total. Take a small handful of the pork mixture and gently roll it into a large meatball. Once pealed the cabbage leaf will take the natural form of a bowl, place the pork meatball into the thicker end of the cabbage. Fold in the sides and roll forward. Place the stuffed cabbage into the Dutch oven with the tomato sauce seam down. Repeat until all of the pork is used. Spoon some of the sauce over all of the stuffed cabbage. Cover and place in the oven.
As mentioned above – I cooked mine for about 4 hours at 200 degress, but if you are in more of a hurry you can cook it at 325 for about an hour and a half. If you decide to slow cook the stuffed cabbage for 4 hours, cover the Dutch oven with a sheet of tin foil before placing the lid on it. This will ensure that the liquid does not evaporate. Once the stuffed cabbage has cooked, plate and enjoy!