This is a less demanding and time-consuming version of cabbage rolls as the stuffing ingredients are not pre-cooked, though the baking time is longer as a result. There are three ways to prepare the cabbage leaves: parboiling; steaming; or freezing the entire head overnight, then defrosting it and peeling the leaves off. Steaming takes a bit longer than parboiling, but one is not dealing with a big pot of boiling water. I like to reserve the outer leaves of the cabbage as a layer overtop the cabbage rolls, one can also use parchment paper. You can half the recipe if you like; I did.
1 medium-size head green cabbage
1 c onion, finely chopped
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c tomato sauce; or salsa; or ketchup; or 1/4 c tomato paste plus 1/4 c water
3 large eggs, beaten
3 T Worcestershire sauce
1 c white rice
2 T paprika
1 T caraway seeds
salt and pepper, to taste
2 1/2 lbs ground meat–chuck, pork, turkey, or a combination
4 c tomato juice or pureed tomatoes
1. Core cabbage, using a sturdy paring knife. Parboil for 5 to 10 minutes, removing outer leaves as they begin to cook and/or come away from the head and placing in a colander to drain. Steaming will take about half an hour, again, remove outer leaves as they cook. For freezing, carefully remove leaves once the entire head is defrosted.
2. Meanwhile, combine, in a large bowl, the onion, garlic, tomato sauce, beaten eggs, Worcestershire sauce, rice, paprika, caraway seeds, salt, and pepper. Add ground meat and mix thoroughly.
3. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large casserole dish or roaster, pour just enough tomato juice to cover the bottom. Before stuffing each leaf, you may want to slice off the thick ridge on back of the leaf, but don’t cut into the leaf. Take 2 to 3 tablespoons of the stuffing mixture and place near the bottom of the leaf. Fold over, then fold in the sides, and then roll the leaf up. Place in the baking dish, with the end leaf piece on the bottom. Continue until all the stuffing is used up. It’s okay to layer the cabbage rolls.
4. Pour tomato juice all over the cabbage rolls. Cover with a layer of reserved cabbage leaves or parchment paper. If the baking dish doesn’t have a lid, then cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until bubbling. Let sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.