Slow-Cooked Stuffed Cabbage Recipe
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For the cabbage
- 1 large head green cabbage, cored
- 1 1/2 pound ground beef
- 2/3 cup medium- or long-grain rice
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
- 2 (30-ounce cans) tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped apples
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped tomatoes
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- Place chopped meat, rice, eggs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix until evenly combined. Roll into 1-inch balls and refrigerate.
- Fill a large stockpot 2/3 full with heavily-salted water and bring to boil. Stick a long fork (one with a rosewood or like handle) into the cabbage head and gently place it in water. When leaves become soft and start to fall off, carefully remove these cooked leaves and place them in a large, flat colander. Return the remaining cabbage to the stockpot and repeat until all the leaves are done. Place the colander in the sink and then pour the water from the pot over the cooked leaves. Gently rinse them with cool water. Drain then cut and discard the thick ends/spines.
- Lay each leaf out on a flat work surface and place a meatball in the center. Top with a smaller leaf, roll and tuck edges so that you have small packages. (If there are any remaining cabbage leaves, chop and reserve.)
- Begin layering; I use a 7-quart Dutch oven, which generally requires three layers. Add 1/3 each of tomato sauce, apples, onions, tomatoes, brown sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, zest, and the remaining chopped cabbage or meatballs. Place stuffed cabbage on top of this but do not crowd them. Repeat until you have three layers.
- Add water until just filled to the top of the last layer. Place on stovetop and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and flavors are melded, about 1 1/2 hours. Taste sauce and adjust with salt and pepper as you please. Plate, and serve with egg noodles or boiled potatoes.