We have had lots of struggles and challenges in our lives, but we've had even more blessings!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My version of 'Stuffed Cabbage'

  As a family, we had eaten Corned Beef, Red Potatoes in butter and parsley, Sauerkraut (well, three of them had it 8-p), etc., for Sunday Dinner the Sunday before St. Patrick's day. I know they r-e-a-l-l-y liked it, due to how little was left afterwords. So much for making a big casserole out of it later in the week. Aw well. I totally took it as a compliment!
   But I still wanted to make some type of a Corned Beef Dinner for St. Patrick's day, just because. Yes, I know that there are lots of other Irish type recipes that use other meats. But we really like corned beef, yet we seldom have it. Crazy!  So I went through my 'St. Patty's Day' Pinterest board and my 'Recipes I'd like to try board' trying to find something that struck my fancy.
   In doing so, I came across this recipe for 'Stuffed Cabbage'. The note I had made to myself read, "only substitute chopped tomatoes for the raisins". (More about that in a minute.) I had made stuffed cabbage one time, ever so many years ago. Our sons hadn't liked it at all! I had only been mildly impressed. But Brian had really liked it. He's often talked about liking stuffed cabbage. One time we had eaten it some place else and I had made a mental note about his comments concerning how dry theirs had been. I knew that 'someday' I would break down / get brave and make it for him again. Only took over fifteen years to do so. o:->
  I clicked on the picture on pinterest, to go to the recipe itself. Reading down the ingredients... vegetable oil - "no problem", yellow onion - "no problem", green cabbage - "okay", ground beef - "I can just substitute finely chopped up, already cooked, corned beef", cooked rice - "Brian's not a fan of white rice, I'll substitute finely chopped potatoes", raisins - "Brian does not like raisins! But I could substitute chopped canned tomatoes", (When I was explaining all of this at the dinner table, Byron commented on how the raisins part was a highly praised thing in Polish communities [Cyndi is from a strong Polish family]. Grandpa 'Honey' reminded him that he (Byron) comes from a strong English background. :-p). salt - "okay", tomato sauce - "that would go good with all of my substitutions", beef broth - "corned beef still is beef", paprika - "have it on hand", top with sour cream - "oh, I bet that would taste good!".  And thus the recipe for 'my version' of Stuffed Cabbage was formed.
    Now on to how I made it, partly so I can do so again, as has been highly requested; and also so that you might want to make it too.
    First step - remember that I was making a big batch of them. You can adjust the recipe to how many you personally want to make.
   Pull the corned beef briskets out of the fridge and thourally spray the roaster with pan coating spray. [Remember, tis easier to spray, then to scrub forever afterwords!]
                                                                   [ # 690 ]

   Place the briskets fat side up in the roaster. [ Do NOT cut the layer of fat off of meat before cooking it!!! Always place the meat in your pan or on your grill with the fat side up. That way, as the meat cooks, the flavors of the meat, which are stored in the fat, flow down into the meat producing a more favorable and moist finished product. Once the meat is done cooking, let it 'sit up' for five minutes (covered somehow), then it's okay to cut any remaining fat off, before slicing and serving.

                                                                     [ # 691 ]

   I pour the juices out of the package over the meat and into the pan too. Yes, it's a little slimy. But I figure, 1 - it's it's good enough to be packed in it, it's good enough to be cooked in it. No. 2 - since it's been sealed together, it must contain a lot of the flavoring of the meat and it's better to keep it in there while it bakes, rather than rinsing it down the drain. And 3 - The mere process of baking it, will remove any un-pleasantries from it.

                                                                     [ # 692 ]

   Sprinkle on the spices that come inside the little packets with the meat.
                                                                      [ # 693 ]

   Put the lid on the pan, put the pan in the preheated oven (temp. set to what the meat package said) and bake. The package says to bake so long per pound of meat. For tenderer meat, cook an additional hour.
   While the meat is baking, go ahead and get started on the other ingredients. First up, the carrots. After chopping the ends off, use a vegetable peeler to peel them. [I set a used bread bag inside a plastic container in the sink to do so. Makes cleanup ever so much easier! Peel about two inches of the thick end first, then turn the carrot upside down and peel away.
   Slice the carrot in half lengthwise, then cut/slice the halves into thirds.
                                                                           [ # 694 ]
   Proceed on to chopping the long thin slices into small pieces.
                                                                  [ # 695 ]
   Some I chopped into small pieces to go inside the cabbage rolls, some I made larger to bake and serve in a side dish.
                                                                  [ # 696 ]
   Next up come the potatoes. I use red skinned potatoes, because for whatever reason, they contain less natural sugar and thus are better for people with high sugar levels (diabetics, etc.)

                                                                     [ # 697 ]

   Then turn them and either cut them into very small pieces for in the cabbage rolls, or into larger sizes for part of the side dish.
                                                                    [ # 698 ]

   Layer both types of the potatoes into well sprayed baking pans (it's okay to use glass or metal ones, I used the glass ones since the pictures would show what I'm talking about easier). Top the potatoes with the same sized chopped carrots.
    Top the carrots in the larger sized veggies pan, with thin sliced butter (yes, real butter) slabs.
                                                                       [ # 699 ]

    Yup, that's a lot of butter. But you want it to cook into all of your chopped veggies, not just some here and there. And it will melt down and do exactly that during the baking process.

    Finely chop up a yellow onion and layer it on top of the carrots in the smaller sized chopped veggies pan.
                                                                     [ # 700 ]

   Now top that pan with thin slices of butter.
                                                                  [ # 701 ]

   Cover them and place them in the oven with the baking meat. I 'think' I baked the veggies for an hour. (Should have written that part down too. Sorry).
    Time to start prepping the canned tomatoes. Now yes, you can buy cans of already chopped tomatoes, but they contain such big chunks, larger than I wanted. And pureed tomatoes don't really contain chunks. Therefore, I cut them up into the size I want!  First drain the tomatoes (saving the juices for later!), cut into each tomato right before you remove it from the strainer, so that the juices on the inside slip out there, instead of all over your cutting board.

                                                                   [ # 702 ]
                                               Sorry, I could not get the picture to stayed turned.

    Once your done, set them aside (back in the rinsed out strainer until it's time to combine all of the filling ingredients.
    Once you have removed the meat from the oven, let it sit for fifteen minutes (sitting up time plus cooling down a little time), slice the meat into thin slices, slice the thin slices into thin strips, then chop them into smaller pieces via turning them the other way (I just turn my cutting board. ;-> )

                                                                       [ # 704 ]

   Dump each board full of the chopped up meat, into a big mixing bowl. {Remember, I was making a big batch of them}.
                                                                     [ # 705 ]

   Remove the finely chopped up veggies from the oven.
                                                                       [ # 706 ]

    Add them to the bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes. Blend everything together thourally! You want to get a little bit of everything in every single bite.

     It's time to get the cabbage ready. Directions of the recipe on line stated, "Bring large pot of salted water to a boil (a full boil is when the big bubbles form and roll on top of one another).  Remove core from cabbage head. Place cabbage in water. After about two minutes the outside leaf will come lose. Remove it with tongs. Pat dry with paper towels. Keep repeating." I was going to take pictures of this process... but then the cabbage head started bobbing in the water. And when I tried to remove the first leaf, I learned that I must not have cut out quite enough of the core, because the leaf wouldn't come 100% free. So there I was, at 11:00 at night, me - 'Ms. Vertigo', trying to cut each leaf off a bobbing head of cabbage, in a pan of boiling water... Mercy! I really am quite surprised they never did an episode of 'I Love Lucy' out of this process! o:-D    "Cut out the thick part of the rib of each leaf, but don't cut more than a third of the way into the leaf. With the stem side of the cabbage facing you, place a scant 1/3 cup of the beef mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold the bottom edge over the mixture and then fold the sides over and roll into a tidy packet." 'Tidy', hummm. Maybe the ground beef and rice stick together more and make it easier to make a 'tidy' packet'. I don't know. Do the best you can. I did. "Place the cabbage rolls seam side down in (well) greased baking pan." Squeeze them close enough together and make sure you have a large spoon to scoop them out with at dinner time. ;-> I was ever so totally amazed, for how falling apart mine were when I left them in the pan before baking, they came out all together in nice little bundles when we scooped them out. I literally thanked the Lord for that while sitting in my spot at the table! 
    "Mix together the tomato sauce, broth and paprika." I improvised again. Why drain the juice off of the canned tomatoes and dump it?! I mixed a can of tomato paste in with the liquid from the canned tomatoes, added the beef broth (I used two cups) and paprika (I used 2 teaspoons) and blended thourally. 

                                                                    [ # 707 ]

  Pour the broth mixture over your crammed full pan of cabbage rolls.
                                                                [ # 708 ]
    I refrigerated the finished rolls overnight (most things (such as goulash, spaghetti sauce, etc.) taste better after the mixture has been chilled together and then reheated, right? ).
    Bake at 350o for 1 hour.

    I served ours with the other baked veggies, peas (many of the Irish recipes contain peas. I am not a fan of peas. But both Brian and his dad are. Therefore, I served them as a side dish. o;-p.), green beans w/ bacon,  dinner rolls, and a pasta mixture, because I wasn't sure if our now adult sons would like the new cabbage rolls or not. 
     [ # random pic.'s - stuffed cabbage rolls - picture is smaller due to being sent to me via Byron's phone. Thanks Byron! ]

    By the way, topping the stuffed cabbage rolls with sour cream is an wonderful idea!
    And for the record, Grandpa 'Honey', Brian, Brent and Kayla kept exclaiming over dinner about how good my version was and each one inquired if I had remembered to write down what I did as I went along, so I could make them again, sooner than fifteen years from now. :-D I love it when an idea works out!
        I had ended up with one and three quarters pans full. Had filling for more, but was not up to boiling another head of cabbage. It (the cabbage) was turned into slaw a few days later. :-> Brian ate up the left over filling for lunch one day.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I 'plan' on linking this particular posting up to:

  ~ "Making Your Home Sing Monday('s)", are hosted by Nan, at 'Mom's the Word (I love to hear)'  (http://momstheword--livingforhim.blogspot.com/).
  ~  "Kitchen Tip Tuesday('s)", hosted by Tammy, at 'Tammy's Recipes'  (http://www.tammysrecipes.com/). 
 ~ "Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits", hosted by Susan, at 'Permanent Posies / Creative Chaos' (http://permanentposies.com/)
 ~ "Totally Tasty Tuesdays", are hosted by Mandy, at 'Mandy's Recipe Box' (http://www.mandysrecipebox.blogspot.com/).
  ~ "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday('s)", are hosted by Lisa, at 'Blessed with Grace'  (http://www.blessedwithgrace.net/)

  ~ "Full Plate Thursday('s)", are hosted by Miz Helen, at 'Miz Helen's Country Cottage' (http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/).     
  ~ "Foodie Friday('s)", are hosted by "Gollum" (aka: Michael), at 'Rattlebridge Farm' (http://designsbygollum.blogspot.com/)   


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