Sunday, 8 December 2013

Cabbage Rolls; Croatian Style

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First, let me say that I call these Croatian style because I was taught how to make them by my Croatian husband's Great Aunt.  People from other countries may use a similar recipe, and other Croatians may use a different recipe.  The people that made me cabbage rolls when I was young were Ukrainian and theirs were made with rice and bacon, but no ground meat.
I started this post last year, took all the pictures and posted them, but never got around to doing the write up.  My niece just asked for this recipe so I thought I might as well finish off the post.  I usually just wing it when I make cabbage rolls, so don't worry about following the recipe exactly, because I never do, I will just try to figure it out as I write it down.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 medium onion (chopped fine)
3 cloves garlic (or to taste, I have been using more)
1 T salt
6 sliced of bacon (cut up into fine pieces, pieces that are just pure fat I leave out)

mix all of the above ingredients together

1 1/2 cups of white rice (not minute rice)

pour rice into boiling water and cook for 10 minutes, drain
while hot spread rice over the meat mixture
mix into meat mixture, I do this with my hands, but be careful the rice is very hot

1 head of cabbage 

Remove the core from a cabbage and place cabbage in a large pot of boiling water.  As the leaves soften, remove them from the pot and set aside (I pull them off the head with a fork).  Continue until the whole cabbage has been cooked and removed from the water.  Some people prefer to freeze the cabbage rather than cooking it.  Freezing does make the cabbage pliable enough to roll, but I don't like the taste or texture of this method, again, you can try it and decide for yourself.
Some people prefer soured cabbage, you can buy this in the produce section of your grocery store.
Slice the thick vein from the cabbage leaves before rolling, don't cut it out completely, just thin it down to the same thickness of the leaf.

Form the hamburger mixture into a roll sized according to the size of the cabbage leaf.  I tend to make mine large.

Place on cabbage leaf and roll it up, tucking in the sides as you go.  The next several pictures show this step.

Take some of the smaller inside leaves, and some of the torn outer leaves and line the bottom of the pan.  These are absolutely edible, but in case of burning or sticking these should keep the rolls protected.

Layer the cabbage rolls into the pan.

Do as many layers as you need, just don't overfill the pan as you will be adding tomato juice and you don't want it to boil over.  Add at least a 48 oz can of tomato juice. My husband likes them with extra sauce so lately I have been adding either more tomato juice or some water.
I always add more salt at this point because I love salt.

Bake in 350 degree oven, probably 3 hours, covered.  I like the cabbage to be well cooked and limp.  You can judge for yourself how you like them.  The cabbage always take longer to cook than the meat . Mmmm.  Just seeing the photo below makes me wish these were coming out of the oven right now.

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