Now it's time to plan for Christmas! First comes the decor. Have you decorated your tree yet? Marcus and I are trying to figure out how to put up a tree and protect it from Josie. All our beautiful glass ornaments. Disaster!
Then comes travel? My family lives in Boston and Marcus' family lives on the eastern shore of Maryland. With a one year old, we decided not to travel on the 25th, so this year, as a way to bring our family together, we are celebrating Marcus' boyhood tradition of Ukrainian Christmas on January 7. Everyone is coming to our house.
I can't wait.
I've already started planning the menu. Stuffed cabbage, or halupki, as my husband calls it, can be delicious. Unfortunately, I've tried many bland versions as well. The key, I think, is to heavily season the meat, and make a flavorful sauce.
A big, long head of Napa cabbage showed up in my CSA a few weeks ago, so I gave Ina Garten's recipe for stuffed cabbage a try. It's yummy. I will I be making this for Ukrainian Christmas (I would make this any night of the week).
Now onto the presents!
From the Barefoot Contessa at Home
Prep Time:20 min
Cook Time:1 hr 0 min
Serves: 6 servings
- I used Napa cabbage instead of regular old green cabbage. It worked perfectly. I blanched the cabbage leaves and then, using an ice cream scoop, plopped to two scoops of the meat mixture in the center of the leaf. Then I rolled it from the bottom, leaving the sites loose/open a bit, and then tucked the roll into the pan. They stayed rolled with no problem at all. Note that you do not have to cut the rib out if you use Napa cabage.
- I used ground beef instead of ground chuck. Still delicious.
- I used a flat pyrex casserole pan instead of a dutch oven and just covered it with foil. Works fine.
- You can make the sauce and/or the meat mixture ahead of time. I pulled mine together on Sunday, stored them in the fridge, and then assembled the rolled cabbages on a week night. Awesome.
- Make sure not to overcook. Check your rolls at about 45 minutes. Overcooking them will let the fat drain out of the meat, and leave the balls dense. Yuck.
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large head Savoy or green cabbage, including outer leaves
For the filling:
- 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
- 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
- 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a paring knife. Immerse the head of cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes, peeling off each leaf with tongs as soon as it s flexible. Set the leaves aside. Depending on the size of each leaf, you will need at least 14 leaves.
For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, rice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add 1 cup of the sauce to the meat mixture and mix lightly with a fork.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To assemble, place 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Remove the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a small paring knife. Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in an oval shape near the rib edge of each leaf and roll up toward the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll. Place half the cabbage rolls, seam sides down, over the sauce. Add more sauce and more cabbage rolls alternately until you ve placed all the cabbage rolls in the pot. Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with the lid and bake for 1 hour or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender. Serve hot.