Stuffed Cabbage Rolls 7.000

James M. Thresher for The Washington Post; dish from Crate and Barrel

Dec 29, 2010

Stuffed cabbage rolls are crowd pleasers. Savoy cabbage is used because its leaves are greener and more tender than regular green cabbage. Thai red curry paste gives the rolls’ sauce extra body and a bit of zing. A dollop of creme fraiche imparts a richness that balances the acid in the tomatoes.

Make Ahead: The dish can be assembled 2 days in advance, or frozen (baked or unbaked) for up to 3 months.

Servings: 7
  • For the rolls
  • 1 large (about 2 1/2 pounds) whole savoy cabbage, cored; keep outer leaves intact
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cooked basmati rice
  • For the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large or 1 medium yellow onion, cut into half-moon slices
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • For assembly
  • 7 tablespoons crème fraîche (optional)
  • Chopped chives (optional)


For the rolls: Fill a stockpot with water and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.

Plunge a carving fork into the center of the whole cored cabbage; use it to transfer the cabbage to the boiling water, gently loosening the outside leaves one after the other and letting them fall into the water. Continue loosening the leaves until the remaining cabbage is about the size of a softball; reserve this section for shredding.

Once the leaves are in the water, cook them for about 5 minutes. Use a Chinese skimmer or tongs to transfer the leaves to a large colander. Run cold water over them until they are cool. Blot dry on clean dish towels, then shred the remaining (uncooked) leaves and place them in a bowl (to be used for the sauce). The dark green outer leaves of the cabbage -- there should be 4 or 5 of them -- will be used to help cover the assembled cabbage rolls.

Use a paring knife to trim the core end (a thick vein) of the cooked leaves flat, so they will roll easily. The leaves are now ready to be filled; there should be at least 14 of them.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a baking sheet and a heavy-bottomed 5-quart Dutch oven at hand.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes or until it is softened, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl and cool.

Place the ground turkey in a large bowl. Add the garlic powder, onion salt, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper; use your clean hands to thoroughly incorporate those ingredients, then add the egg and cooked onion mixture; mix well. Gently fold in the cooked basmati rice. (You can check for seasoning by cooking a small patty of stuffing in a small skillet and tasting it.)

Separate the mixture into 14 equal portions; shape into oblong pieces about 2 inches thick and just long enough to fit inside the cooked cabbage leaves. Arrange the cooled leaves so the slightly concave side is facing up, with a trimmed edge facing you (or closest to the edge of your work space). Place one piece of the meat mixture just inside the leaf edge closest to you. Fold the end of the leaf over the oblong filling, then fold in the two sides like a package. Continue to roll into a compact log. Place on the baking sheet with the seam side down. Repeat to use the remaining oblong filling pieces. Shred any remaining cooked leaves were not used (not the 4 or 5 reserved, dark green, outer leaves) and add them to the reserved shredded cabbage.

For the sauce: Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and reserved shredded cabbage; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in the garlic, Thai red curry paste, salt and pepper; cook for 1 minute, then stir in the broth and tomato sauce. Cook for several minutes; taste, and adjust the seasoning. There should be about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of sauce.

Spread a half-cup of the sauce in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Arrange a single layer of cabbage rolls on the sauce, like the spokes of a wheel. Place some rolls in the center, making sure not to crowd them.

Use the remaining rolls to build a second layer like the first. Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls, then fit the reserved dark green outer leaves over the rolls, as if the leaves were enveloping a head of cabbage. Cover, and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes; the rolls should be firm when pressed. Let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Discard those dark green leaves (that were used to cover the casserole). If desired, serve each portion with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

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Recipe Source

From Real Entertaining columnist David Hagedorn.

Tested by David Hagedorn.

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