This spring I got cabbage twice in my CSA box. One cabbage was the size of a basketball. I like cabbage a lot but it can be a challenge to use it. I made a nice batch of coleslaw, boiled dinner, and then steamed some with potatoes, onions and kielbasa. All these meals were super tasty. But I still ended up having a half a cabbage to use. So I decided to give in and make a time-consuming family recipe for Stuffed Cabbage rolls.
Stuffed Cabbages are actually a party of the cuisine of many different cultures. Most people think of them as being a Jewish or Eastern European dish. The Jewish version is covered in tomato sauce and uses beef, chicken or a mixture as the meat in the filling. The Eastern European version is typically stuffed with pork.
My family doesn’t come from either of these ethnic backgrounds though. We’re Greek so our cabbage rolls are completely different. The filling is ground lamb, rice, spearmint, and onion. The sauce is a lemon sauce, the same type of lemon sauce that often is server over stuffed grape leaves (aka dolmades) and used in avgolemono soup. This type of thing is a form of dolma which actually come in a huge variety of vegetables which can be stuffed and fillings.
There are two challenges with making the cabbage rolls. First, pre-cooking the cabbage and separating the leaves out so that you can stuff them. You have to be careful when you peel off the individual leaves otherwise you’ll shred them. Second, making the lemon sauce. You are dealing with eggs here and it is very, very easy to curdle the eggs and end up with a sauce that is has scrambled eggs bits in it. Gross! There are several tricks. First, let the eggs sit out so they come to room temperate. Second, make sure not to use heat that is too high. Third, whisk vigorously and constantly. When you put the lemon juice and reserved water in, make sure they are right at hand so you can immediately add them without stopping whisking.
- 1 pound Ground lamb
- ½ cup Rice
- 1 large Egg
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Dried spearmint
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- ¼ cup Chopped onion
- ⅔ cup Milk
- 1 Cabbage
- 2 eggs
- 1 lemon (juice)
- Hot water from steaming cabbage
- In mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, spearmint, rice, egg, salt, pepper, onion, and milk. Mix well. Blanche cabbage leaves until limp for 1 minute in boiling water. Allow leaves to cool. Fill each cabbage leaf with ground beef mixture. Wrap leaf around ground beef mixtures. Place stuffed cabbages in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove rolls from hot water.
- Whisk eggs in double boiler until frothy. Add lemon juice, and ¼ cup of the hot water from reserved from cooking the cabbages. Whisk until thickens.
- Serve cabbage rolls with lemon sauce on top.