Unstuffed Cabbage

By • February 7, 2012 • 18 Comments


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Author Notes: This month my book group read the book “Miriam’s Kitchen” by Elizabeth Ehrlich. It is a memoir by a woman who came to know her mother-in-law by learning to cook old time Jewish recipes. We had a potluck dinner for which each of us brought a dish that made memories--either something from our family, or something we make for our families and friends. One of the women brought a dish she called “unstuffed cabbage”-- sweet and sour cabbage with meatballs. It was amazing, and I ate way too much of it. Her recipe called for meatballs that you bake in the oven while you make a sauce of shredded cabbage, jellied cranberry sauce, and something called Chef Emilio’s tomato sauce (which she said was really hard to find). I wanted to re-create it with fresh ingredients. (In case you were wondering, I did find Chef Emilio’s tomato sauce and I think the main ingredient is MSG--it has 560 mg of sodium in a 3 ounce can.)

This is a stew so it gets better as it sits. You could make it in a slow cooker. I formed the meatballs in the morning and refrigerated them, and made the sauce and let it simmer on the stove for about an hour. Then I browned the meatballs and added them to the sauce and let it all cook together for another hour or so. You can change the amounts of sugar and add vinegar to your taste--just add a little at a time.
drbabs

Serves 4-6 (can be multiplied)

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. Ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil
  1. Fold all ingredients together till well-blended. Place a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add a little oil and sauté the meatball until it is cooked through. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Form the rest of the mixture into meatballs--about a tablespoon of mixture per meatball. Pack them lightly. Refrigerate meatballs while you make the sauce.

For the cabbage:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more to brown meatballs
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 small head cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes (I used 1 box of Pomi)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Vinegar and more brown sugar as needed
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions with a pinch of kosher salt till soft. Add cabbage, and cover, stirring occasionally, till cabbage cooks down. Stir in cranberries, and continue to cook, covered, stirring occasionally until cranberries start to burst and release their juices. (They will continue to cook as you add the rest of the ingredients.) Stir in tomatoes, onion powder, brown sugar, cayenne and ginger. Cover, and let all ingredients stew together.
  2. Remove meatballs from refrigerator. Place a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and brown meatballs on all sides. Gently add meatballs to cabbage mixture when they are browned. Stir them in gently till submerged. Let meatballs cook in cabbage mixture until they are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Taste sauce, and add salt, pepper, vinegar and/or brown sugar if needed to your taste. I served it with a crusty multi-grain boule.

Comments (18) Questions (0)

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3 months ago EatArt

So glad I happened upon this recipe! My mom's stuffed cabbage was my favorite of all of her dishes. But it was a major project. Your recipe is brilliant. Amazing flavors and a breeze to make. This is a new favorite!

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3 months ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks--that's why I like this, too. I hope you enjoy it.

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3 months ago SunnyIowa

I'm going to admit ignorance: what kind of cabbage is used in this recipe? Green? Red? Either??

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3 months ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I use green, but I don't think it matters.

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almost 2 years ago Kateq

Oh delicious! And so simple...I had fresh made whole berry cranberry sauce (not too sweet) which I used instead of berries and sugar. Tart and sweet enough without any added sugar or vinegar. And I made it in the crockpot.
Thank you!

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almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much for commenting! I'm really glad you liked it.

Dscn2212

about 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This looks fantastic, drb.

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about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks, b. I'm loving your blog.

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about 2 years ago Tarragon

Coincidentally I ordered stuffed cabbage in a restaurant last week - their preparation did nothing for me at all and I'm getting ready to make my own this weekend. This recipe looks great - (and I loved the book Miriam's kitchen!)

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about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

It was kind of embarrassing how much I liked my friend's version--especially when she told me the recipe. This comes together really easily, and you can make it sweeter/more sour to your taste. (The cranberries are little bombs of sour, but they eventually melt into the sauce.)

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about 2 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

If my Father was alive, I would make him this dish. Stuffed cabbage was part of his Jewish heritage comfort food. Great recipe.

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about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

My parents are both Jewish, but I guess because we lived in new Orleans, not ethnically so. I first tasted stuffed cabbage as an adult, and have always loved it. In fact, one year we took my mother in law to Ben's delicatessen for Thanksgiving (don't ask), and I had stuffed cabbage for Thanksgiving dinner.

Jampro

about 2 years ago Bevi

My grandmother made a dish similar to this, and she did use jellied cran sauce out of a can. My husband will love this as he was raised on this type of food.

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about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

It must have been used a lot--I have another friend who makes tiny meatballs and serves them with toothpicks in a sauce made of jellied cranberry sauce and Lipton's onion soup mix.

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about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Have fun with your mom!

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about 2 years ago ellenl

Love this. Check out Gourmet's unstuffed sweet and sour cabbage--I made it once after stumbling upon the recipe and sliced the cabbage, rather than leaving it in chunks, to get more sauce in it.

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about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks! That one looks good, too.

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about 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh I am SO making this. Maybe this weekend with my mom if we have time. Cranberries and meatballs and cabbage! I am in heaven.