Makes about 12-16 cabbage rolls
- 1 medium-to-large head green cabbage, Savoy cabbage, or Swiss chard
- 1 pound ground beef (80/20) or combination of ground beef and ground pork
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- 1/2 cup onion, diced and sautéed in butter
- 1 1/2 cup sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 pounds diced tomatoes briefly cooked or a 28-ounce can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes*
- Tomato juice (if more liquid is needed)
To make the filling
Season meat generously with salt and pepper and mix in cooked rice and sautéed onion. This can be done the night before and refrigerated.
To prepare the cabbage
Remove tough outer leaves, wash, and reserve. Using a paring knife, remove some of the core from cabbage and submerge the head in a large pot of boiling water, core side down. Boil for 4–5 minutes and remove to a colander until cool enough to handle. Remove outer leaves, which should be soft and pliable, but not overly soft. With the paring knife, cut out more of the core and return the cabbage to the boiling water, repeating the process until all large leaves have been removed. Chop the remaining small center leaves and reserve. Then place the large cabbage leaves on a cutting board and pat dry. Using a small paring knife, shave down the tough, thick part of the stem at the base of each leaf, being careful not to cut through the leaf itself.
Filling the leaves
Place a leaf on the cutting board with the stem end closest to you and with the curl of the leaf facing upward. Put a couple of heaping tablespoons of filling in the center of the leaf 1/2 inch above the edge. Fold the base of the leaf up and over the filling until it is completely covered. Then fold the left and right edges inward over the filling as you continue to roll the leaf, making a neat package. Continue with the rest of the leaves until all of the filling is used up.
Assembling the rolls for baking
Place reserved outer cabbage leaves on bottom of baking dish or roaster to prevent the rolls from sticking or burning. Place half of cabbage rolls, seam side down, then half of the sauerkraut, then half of the tomato sauce on top. Repeat with remaining cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, and tomatoes, ending with the chopped cabbage left over from the center of the head.
There should be enough liquid in the pan so that the top row of rolls is almost covered. Use tomato juice if more liquid is needed. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 1/2–2 hours, checking halfway through to add more tomato juice, if needed. These are even better the next day.
*If you’re looking for maximum comfort use 1 can of tomato soup in place of tomatoes.