Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

It’s that time of year when it’s still a little cold and the season is still a little boring, but pirates turn into leprechauns and unashamedly drink Jameson instead of Mount Gay. We Galley Pirates have had a good six seasons of St. Patrick’s Day recipes, and no two are alike. So next up is Stuffed Cabbage. This recipe is an Irish tomato sauce-based recipe in celebration of next Tuesday’s festivities. This is not to outshine my co-pirate Kristin’s Hungarian Cabbage Rolls which I’m mentioning here so she feels pressured into making those for us soon. (They have a sauerkraut/sour cream base which I can’t wait to try!!) But for now…may the luck of the Irish be with you!

Since out boat has been winterized, Jen (who graciously welcomed us onto her boat for Mardi Gras Eggplant Bayou Teche last year!) again let us barge into her cozy Erwin to make chaos in her galley. Erin go Bragh! 

Stuffed Cabbage

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1 large head of Savoy or regular cabbage

Tomato Sauce

3 tablespoons EVOO
2 onions, chopped
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Meat Filling

2 lbs ground beef
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1 teaspoon Thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

First, prepare the cabbage leaves. I find the best way to do this is to cut the core out of the head of cabbage first. I used a Savoy cabbage as the leaves are a little more delicate and very pretty with the little bumpy veins running through the leaves. Find a pot big enough to fit the head of cabbage whole. Fill the pot with 3″ of water and set the cored head in the pot. If you can get a lid on it, great. If not, place a piece of foil on top to hold the steam.

Steam for about 10 minutes until you can peel each leaf off the cabbage head with tongs. You will need 12-14 large leaves. Once you have taken the leaves off the head, cut the large vein out of each leaf to make them easier to roll. Set the leaves aside.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Preheat your galley oven to 350º.

Next, mix up the meat stuffing. Combine the ground beef, eggs, chopped onion, breadcrumbs, uncooked rice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Best to mix with your hands like you do meatloaf. Once combined, take 1/3-1/2 cup of the meat mixture, shape into an oval and place it on the rib edge of a cabbage leaf. Fold in the bottom of the leaves, then fold in the sides and roll up like a burrito. Or an egg roll. Or something that’s not typically Irish.

Place 1 to 2 cups of tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish or cake pan. Layer each cabbage roll onto the sauce. Continue until all 12-14 rolls are in the pan.

Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls and cover tightly with foil. Place a large piece of foil or a cookie sheet on your oven rack to capture any spillage before placing the pan in the oven. Bake for 1 hour until meat is cooked through and rice has softened.

Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Two rolls per person should be a good start. But if you’ve had an afternoon of St. Paddy’s Day celebration that included more liquids than carbs, you may want to go back for seconds or thirds! And send happy people back home to their boats with leftovers as these can be easily reheated or microwaved.

Have a great St. Patrick’s Day, pirates!!

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