Back when I lived in Florida, my sister and I would take our weekly Thursday pilgrimage to Lenny’s Restaurant in Clearwater for their Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup. The flavors in a sweet & sour cabbage dish are just so satisfying and different from anything else that hits your mouth, and Lenny’s made those flavors better than anyone else.
Its been 10 years since I have been in Boston. That is 10 years since I have savored those delicious flavors. I made this dish once about 3 years ago for a friend‘s baby shower. But ever since then, my taste buds have been deprived. That is until my sister came into town a couple of weeks ago. Leave it to Debbie to think of the best dishes when I ask her what she wants me to cook!
I did have to sacrifice and use ground turkey (she doesn’t eat red meat), but actually, it did not hurt the flavor what-so-ever, and turned this into a very healthy meal! These rolls came out beautifully, and where even better when reheated throughout the week for lunch. So make sure not to cut the recipe for a smaller amount…trust me…you will want every last bite!
Sweet & Sour Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
- 2 lbs ground beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork or combination (I used turkey)
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice (not instant)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 large cloves garlic (diced)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 head of green cabbage
- 28 oz cups canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 small Vidalia onion (diced)
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vinegar (I used white vinegar, but wine vinegar would work well)
- 2 cups water
- In a large bowl, combine all the stuffing ingredients except the cabbage
- Knead together the ingredients, not too long, just until well mixed.
- Refrigerate mixture until you are ready to use it.
- Fill a large stockpot with enough water to cover a head of cabbage.
- Bring the water to a full boil.
- With a sharp knife, cut in a circle around the cabbage’s “core”, approximately 2 inches deep.
- Place the cabbage into the boiling water.
- Using tongs, approximately every 3 minutes, check to see if the outer cabbage leaves are soft and very flexible. They should pull off of the head extremely easily. If they do not, let it boil a minute or two longer. Remove as many leaves as easily come off whole and then return the cabbage to the water to repeat the process until all leaves large enough to roll have been removed.
- Place ready leaves on a plate and set aside.
- Remove the remaining cabbage from the water, chop, add to your sauce.
- While the cabbage process is happening, prepare the sauce.
- Add all sauce ingredients to a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.
- Salt to taste (you may want to add more sugar or vinegar here too, but only after it has come to a boil).
- Place 2 ladles of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan, enough sauce to just cover the bottom.
- Preheat oven to 380 degrees.
- Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator.
- One at a time, start with your largest cabbage leaf and place about 1/2 cup – 1/3 cup of the meat mixture in the center of the leaf.
- Fold in the top and bottom sides over the meat
- Fold the left side over, and roll towards the right side to close
- Place, seam-side down, in the pan.
- Continue this process until the meat mixture has been used (approximately 12 rolls).
- Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top of the rolls.
- Cover the pan loosely with tin foil.
- Bake for 1 hour, or until meat is cooked through.
- Serve with mashed potatoes and lots of the delicious sauce!
– Renee Hirschberg