Cabbage Stuffed with Mushrooms and Meat

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield:

    4 to 6

    Servings

Appears in

Repared with soaked matzoh instead of rice, these delicious cabbage roils also make an elegant and filling main course at Passover. Green cabbage will work well, but l find the frilly savoy prettier and tastier.

Ingredients

For the Cabbage Rolls

  • ½ to ¾ cup flavorful dried mushrooms (about1 ounce), preferably porcini (avoid dried shiitake here)
  • 1 whole matzoh
  • 1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade, or good-quality, low-sodium purchased
  • 1 head savoy or green cabbage (1½ to 2 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 or 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1 cup carrots, scraped and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade, or good-quality, low-sodium purchased
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

Make the cabbage rolls: put the mushrooms in a bowl, cover with very hot tap water, and let them soak, covered, for 45 minutes.

In another bowl, crumble the matzoh into small pieces and cover with the broth. Let the matzoh steep for at least 20 minutes to drink in as much of the liquid as possible.

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut away the large outer leaves of the cabbage from the core end. Rinse, then blanch them in a large pot of boiling salted water, 4 or 5 at a time, until just soft enough to bend and fold without breaking. Drain and pat dry as they are done, and set them aside to cool. Coarsely chop the inner leaves too small to roll and set aside no more than 2 cups of them for the sauce (any remainder can be discarded or saved for another purpose).

In a skillet, sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat until softened and pale gold, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the onions deepen to a rich, bronze-tinged gold. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.

Drain the mushrooms through a colander lined with a paper towel or a coffee filter, reserving the mushroom liquid for stock or gravy. Rinse the mushrooms briefly under cold water to remove any grit, dry, and chop them. In the wiped out skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and add the remaining 1 teaspoon garlic. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, tossing frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes to mingle the flavors. Add the mushrooms to the onions, together with the beef, dill, parsley, and egg. Stir in the matzoh and its soaking liquid, a little at a time so it is completely absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix everything together well (your hands are best for this).

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Stuff the cabbage leaves: place them on a work surface, curled ends up like an open palm. Cut out the hard little triangle at the base of each stem. Put about Vs cup of filling (depending on the size of the leaf) in the center. Fold the stem end of the leaf over the filling, then tuck in the two sides. Pull the top tightly over these folds to enclose. The cabbage rolls should be compact and rounded. Place the finished rolls seam side down as you work.

Prepare the sauce: in a 6-quart Dutch oven or large heavy ovenproof casserole, heat the oil until hot, then add the garlic and carrots. Sauté, stirring, over moderately high heat for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to turn pale gold at the edges. Add the reserved chopped cabbage, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, lifting and turning the vegetables so they don’t scorch, over moderately high heat, until the cabbage is softened and very lightly browned in parts. While the vegetables are cooking, combine the tomatoes, broth, and lemon juice in a bowl and season to taste.

Place the cabbage rolls on top of the sautéed vegetables, keeping them seam side down. Pack them together closely, and, if necessary, make a second layer. Pour the tomato sauce evenly over the cabbage rolls, cover the pot tightly, and bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven and bake for 2 hours. Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the cabbage is very tender.

You’ll want to sop up every drop of the lusty, deep-flavored sauce, so serve the cabbage rolls with lots of challah or other good bread or mashed potatoes.

Excellent reheated and even better the second day.

Accompaniments

  • challah or other good bread, or mashed potatoes
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