OK, first you have to know that this is a very old family “recipe”, meaning that there is not really a recipe, it is just taught from one generation to the next. That being said, it has been requested, so I will do my best to explain it so that you can recreate it in your own kitchen. I will also include the lazy shortcuts that I have implemented along the way. Shhh! Don’t tell my Granny. 🙂
1 head of cabbage
1 LARGE (I’m talking like the 16 oz can here) of tomato sauce
2 pounds of ground beef ( you can also do pork instead, or 1/2 pork and 1/2 beef)
1 to 2 C of rice
1 can of saurkraut
salt and pepper
As best as you can (’cause this will be hard) cut the core out of the cabbage. Put the cabbage in a LARGE soup pot, fill it at least half way with water and get it almost to a boil, then turn it off. At this point use some tongs or a fork to peel the leaves individually off the head of cabbage, while keeping the cabbage in the hot water. As you remove the leaves, place on a plate or something to catch the water. You will need to let them cool some or you will blister your hands! If the leaf doesn’t come off easily, let it soak in the water a little longer. While you are waiting for the leaves to soften, mix the beef with salt, pepper and rice. Now, this is where it gets into not having a recipe. You are just going to have to eyeball it and decide for yourself if you have enough salt and pepper in there to season the meat. The rice is acting as a binder, so put about as much as you would of breadcrumbs (or whatever you use) if you were making meatloaf or hamburger patties.
Now, using a paring knife, remove the rib from each cabbage leaf. Get a handful of the meat mixture, place in the leaf and roll up. Push the ends of the leaves into the meat to seal the roll up. Do that until you run out of meat or cabbage. At some point the cabbage head will get too small for the leaves to be used to roll up. Those you just chop up. Dump the water out of the large pot, place your cabbage rolls, chopped cabbage, drained saurkraut, and tomato sauce in the pan. Fill the tomato sauce can up with water 2x and pour into pan. If you had extra meat leftover, roll into meatballs and place in pan. Put a lid on your pan, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and let cook for a few hours.
OK, now here are the shortcuts.
I don’t make the rolls anymore. (Remember, this is a secret!) I mix the meat the same but roll all of it into meatballs. I chop the whole head of cabbage up (minus the core of course). Put the meatballs and cabbage in a large pot. Dump in the saurkraut, tomato sauce, and water, and cook away. Now here is my reasoning for this. (a) it tastes the same (b) it is a LOT faster which is important to me when I am trying to get supper on the table (c) my kids only want the meatballs and no cabbage, so why take the time to roll it up
I think that about covers it. Of course, I was taught by the master (my Granny) how to do this and have been doing it for years, so it all makes sense to me. If, however, it doesn’t make sense to you, or you have a question, just let me know and I will be happy to answer it. 🙂