A young newlywed couple from Russia came to Bethany for an extended stay. Alexi, the groom, was delighted to discover that an old friend and former mentor from Russia was unexpectedly going to be near enough to spend some time with him while he was in the States. He immediately extended an invitation to him and his friends for dinner – a real, Russian meal that he himself would prepare for them.
The day of the planned dinner Alexi felt ill and was unable to do any cooking. With his permission I prepared a meal that I thought would be close to what he would have made, and I felt one of the dishes should be stuffed cabbage. I prepared them as I remembered my Ukrainian mother always preparing them.
By dinnertime Alexi was well enough to join his guests and no mention was made of his not feeling well earlier. Everyone enjoyed dinner and Maestro Serge was particularly taken with the stuffed cabbage. “This,” he said to me, “is authentic.” Then he added, “A real Russian can always discern whether or not the Russian food he has been served was prepared by a real Russian.”
CHANGE SERVING SIZEpeople
READY IN1hour, 30 minutes
- 2 medium cabbage(s) or 1 large
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup (8 ounces) tomato sauce fresh or canned
- 1 bay leaf crushed
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups beef broth
- ½ lb. ground lamb
- ½ lb. ground beef
- 1 egg(s)
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove(s) minced (optional)
- ½ tsp. oregano
- ¼ cup rice raw (cooked rice is optional)
- 2 tbsp. tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup white wine (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Fresh tomato sauce
- 4 tomato(es) medium
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. Onion salt
- ¼ tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Cut up tomatoes and simmer with olive oil, onion salt, oregano and sugar until reduced to 1 cup or 8 ounces of sauce. Can be done while preparing cabbage.
- Leave cabbage whole, but cut around the stem, and parboil for 5 minutes; let steep for another 5 minutes.
- Remove cabbage from water and drain; separate cabbage leaves. Chop the small inside leaves and the core and use to line a Dutch oven.
- Combine all the stuffing ingredients and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place 1 tablespoon stuffing on each of the larger cabbage leaves, fold ends of leaves over the stuffing, and roll leaves.
- Arrange the stuffed cabbage leaves in rows in Dutch oven; sprinkle each layer with olive oil, tomato sauce, and crushed bay leaf.
- Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper; add remaining tomato sauce, beef broth and enough water to cover.
- Place a plate on top of cabbage rolls, and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. If using cooked rice cut final cooking time in half.
- Serve the cabbage rolls with the pot sauce poured over them.