A dish consisting of ground beef and rice wrapped in green cabbage leaves, with a tomato sauce.
This traditional Canadian recipe requires time and patience to fill and roll each cabbage leaf individually. As an alternative, a modern and simplified version suggests to alternate layers of meat with layers of chopped cabbage. The resulting dish will be less elegant, but equally good, cutting down at least 30 minutes of the preparation time mentioned here.
Preparation : 1 hCooking : 1 h 30 minCooking Dish : 22 x 32 cm
Using a paring knife, remove the centre core of the cabbage. In a large stockpot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage and cook until the outer leaves are tender, 2-3 min. Lift the cabbage from the water, then remove and set aside the softened outer leaves. When the undercooked inner leaves become difficult to remove, return the cabbage to the pot. Repeat the brief cooking and removal of leaves until enough leaves are cooked (you will need 3 leaves/serving, plus some larger leaves to line the bottom of the baking dish).
Drain the leaves well, then pat them dry with paper towels. Trim the thick centre vein from the bottom of each leaf. (As an alternative, you can also microwave the cabbage to soften the leaves: Place the cabbage in a bowl with about 2 tbsp of water, cover, then microwave on 'High' for about 12 minutes, depending on the power of the microwave and size of the cabbage head).
Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F. Butter a baking dish, then line the bottom with a few of the larger cabbage leaves.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic, then sauté 2-3 min until softened. Add the rice then cook, with stirring, until golden, about 3 min. Stir in the tomatoes, spices, herbs and lemon juice. Mix well, then add the meat and chopped bacon. Sauté over high heat, with stirring, until the meat has lost its pink colour, 7-8 min. Season with salt and pepper.
Place 3 tablespoons of the mixture into the centre of each reserved cabbage leaf. Fold the sides over the filling, then roll the leaf up tightly. Arrange the rolls with the seam side down in the cabbage lined baking dish. Pour the tomato juice over the rolls, then cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in the middle of the oven until very tender, about 1 h 30 min. Serve.
You can bake the cabbage rolls ahead of time, cool, then cover them with plastic wrap and overwrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Refrigerate them for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, thaw them in refrigerator for 24 hours and reheat, covered, in a 175°C/350°F oven for 1 hour or until they are heated through.
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