Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
(aka "Golabki", pronounced "Go-WUMP-kee")
My mom made these Polish cabbage rolls growing up all the time, and they are the ultimate comfort food. They are best with mashed taters with lots of butter and either corn, carrots or peas (because you have to have a nice little veggie like that to smush into the mashed potatoes on the plate :-))
Keep in mind this is no "30-minute meal" but that isn't always a bad thing. I love to make these on a lazy Sunday afternoon while the music's playing in the background and I've got time to enjoy every fun little step of the preparation process. You can make these in a crockpot or in your oven, up to you. The reward of this labor of love is sheer deliciousness, and a big old WOW from your family and friends at the table. This is the ultimate cozy supper food!
1 large head of green cabbage (savoy cabbage is the easiest to roll and the little ripples look very pretty)
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 c. white or brown rice (not quick-cooking or instant)
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp. thyme
pepper to taste
1 meduim can (app. 12 oz) tomato paste
1 large can (28 oz) ground or pureed tomatoes
Fill a stock pot (big enough to fit the whole head of cabbage) with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the cabbage. Bring the water to a boil and, as the leaves become tender (but not cooked), remove the leaves from the head of cabbage layer by layer (you can remove the head from the pot each time you perform this task. Return the cabbage for the next layer or two and so forth). Reserve the outermost, damaged leaves for lining the cooking pot. The largest leaves can be cut in half down the middle.
Combine the beef, rice, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl (don't bother with a spoon - just use your hands.) Line a crockpot or casserole with the outermost leaves. Lay the tender leaves on the counter one at a time a fill with 1-3 tablespoons of mixture, depending on the size of the cabbage leaf. Starting from one long end, roll the leaf, tucking in the sides as you go. Layer the rolls on top of one another in the crockpot or baking dish. With a whisk, combine the tomato paste and puree with a little water. Add thyme. Pour the tomatoes over the rolls. Cook on low in the crockpot or 7 hours, or bake in a covered baking dish and place it in a 250-degree oven for three to four hours.
Serve with mashed buttered potatoes, carrots/corn or peas, and pumpernickel bread with lots of room temperature butter. (No other way!)