Simone Appetit: Eve’s stuffed cabbage rolls | SierraSun.com

Simone Appetit: Eve’s stuffed cabbage rolls

Simone Grandmain

Tis the season. Once upon a time I was in Korea during November and the cabbages were, literally, stacked three-feet high on all streets. I could barely make my way through the produce to purchase my knock-off Reeboks and Members Only Jackets.

Yes, it was a long time ago, when I was not the only member. Bottom line: I should have filled up my fake Louis Vuitton with cabbages. That not only would have gotten me through customs without stripping, but I could have learned something so much faster.

Guess what? Cabbages are fresh, sweet and succulent right about now. My grandmother never made them, but Noreene's mother Eve is the master.

Tomato sauce ingredients:

2 tbls olive oil

2 tbls garlic, crushed (buy it crushed)

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1 can crushed tomatoes (big guy, 28 ounces)

1 small can tomato soup

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar or small packet of Sweet and Low

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cabbage rolls ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 /4 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups steamed brown or wild rice (I buy the microwavable bags for this recipe)

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large heads green cabbage, about 3 pounds each

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. We'll start with the sauce … Coat a large sauce pan with the oil and place over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and soup, then cook it up, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar; simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Place a skillet over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the tomato paste, a splash of wine (meaning huge), parsley, and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce, then mix.

Now for the filling … Combine the ground meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, the cooked rice, and onion mixture. Toss the filling together with your hands to combine, season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Now the leaves. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cabbage leaves in the water for 5 minutes, or until soft. Run the leaves under cool water then lay them out so they are ready for filling. Set aside the big leaves, you will need them later. Take the big outer leaves you have set aside and lay them on the bottom of a casserole pan, let part of the leaves hang out the sides of the pan.

This insulation will prevent the cabbage rolls from burning on the bottom ( trust me) when baked. Use all the good looking leaves to make the cabbage rolls. Put about 1/2 cup of the meat filling in the center of the cabbage, fold the sides in and roll up the cabbage to enclose the filling. Place the cabbage rolls side by side in rows, seam-side down, in the prepared baking pan.

Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls. Fold the hanging leaves over the top to enclose and keep the moisture in. Drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 1 hour until the meat is cooked.

Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen "must-haves" and food news @ simone_grandmain@hotmail.com.