Inside Out Cabbage Rolls
Is there anything in the ranks of comfort food that comes close to evoking childhood memories like cabbage rolls do? (Well, at least for those of us with strong European, and Eastern European heritage). I think because these little bundles of delight are so often served as part of a hearty perogyfest, they’ve maybe become guilty by association with those wonderful but unfortunately gluten-packed pillows of goodness, and have thus metaphorically slid off the plate, to become a wistful pre-GF memory.
And besides – have you seen the WORK that goes into making these things? I mean, omas and babas alike had to learn this cabbage origami craft through recipes handed down from mother to daughter over generations…
I am neither a mother nor a daughter, so perhaps it explains the near-total absence of guilt I felt making this dish, which you can safely call Inside Out Cabbage Rolls. Everything that’s good about the original recipe is here – but instead of crafting tight packages of vegetal leaves embracing a filling of rice, beef and garlicky tomato goodness, you just throw everything in a pot, make up some rice beside, and you get the same taste experience.
Besides, once you tear apart a cabbage roll to eat it, it looks the same on your plate as these Inside Out Cabbage Rolls do. So be quick about serving them up, and nobody will be the wiser…
- 1 lb. lean ground meat. I used ground turkey dark meat, but feel free to use beef or a mixture of ground beef and pork, if you like them a bit more moist.
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Half a head of cabbage, coarsely chopped up
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- 1 package concentrated chicken stock (you can use a couple of GF chicken bouillon cubes instead)
- 1 tbsp dried seasoning herbs – oregano, sage, marjoram, thyme – that sort of thing
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Short-grain rice, prepared in a rice cooker
- Brown the meat and chopped onion with oil over medium heat, in a skillet or heavy dutch oven – something with a lid that closes nicely.
- Add minced garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper
- Once the meat has browned and the onions are soft, stir in the tomato paste and chicken stock, mixing well. The mixture should be moist – add ¼ cup of water if you need to.
- Add the chopped cabbage, stirring it in well to mix in with the meat mixture.
- Prepare your rice in a rice cooker or stovetop.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cover the skillet. Keep an eye on it, stirring every few minutes to ensure nothing burns to the bottom. Turn the heat down to low if you need to.
- The cabbage will soften and contribute a bit more moisture to the mix. This will take about ten minutes, maybe a couple more.
- Once the cabbage is softened – but still has a bit of backbone (you don’t want mush), it’s ready to serve. Your rice will be done by this time.
- Serve the Inside Out Cabbage Rolls on the rice. Add sour cream as a garnish, if you like. Some people even put ketchup on this – something to do with an added vinegary sweetness. Hey, you’re already breaking the rules, go ahead if you want to.
This recipe will comfortably feed four people. If there are only two of you eating – mark my words, the leftovers will taste even better tomorrow.