When I saw the photo and recipe in the November, 2008 Gourmet for this beef, pork and cabbage dish, it just sounded a resonating bell in my head. Years ago I used to make stuffed cabbage rolls, but always found it a lot of work, and . . . well, just not worth the effort. Hence I haven’t made them in decades. But I always liked the flavor. This particular recipe is a quick and easy version – most of the ingredients – but without the work of parboiling the cabbage leaves, stuffing, rolling (carefully) then stacking them in a pot, making a sauce to go over, etc. Then baking or simmering them for awhile.
This recipe is just so simple – it was in Gourmet‘s “Everyday Quick Kitchen” – you make the sauce – kind of like a soup or stew mixture (it sort of looks like tomato chili in a way), and then you simmer the cabbage wedges in broth (separately) and combine them briefly before serving them on a rimmed plate (or a wide soup bowl in my case). I thought this dish was just great – not something you’d serve to guests, perhaps, unless you share really casual meals together. It all could be made ahead and reheated. I doubt the cabbage would do all that well frozen, but I’ll probably freeze a portion or two of the meat mixture and just prepare fresh cabbage when I want to have it again. I cooked the sauce longer than indicated (because I had the time and thought the flavor would improve by longer simmering) and I added some fennel, caraway and thyme to the sauce. You could put this dinner together in less than an hour if you hustled the chopping and cooking of the sauce. The cabbage takes about 45 minutes – you could do that in the microwave or a pressure cooker to speed it up. The beef and ground pork sauce has a delicious tang (from the brown sugar and red wine vinegar) and the juices are so good you don’t want to miss a single slurp. So, try it!
Unstuffed Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage
Recipe: Andrea Albin from Gourmet
1 head cabbage — (2-lb) quartered lengthwise and cored
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 garlic cloves — thinly sliced, divided
1 large onion — thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb ground chuck
1/2 lb ground pork
28 ounces canned tomatoes, including juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds [my addition]
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds [my addition]
1/2 teaspoon oregano — crushed [my addition]
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut cabbage into wedges (maybe 6) and place cabbage in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet with broth, 1 garlic clove (sliced), and a rounded 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cook, covered, turning cabbage occasionally, until very tender, about 45 minutes. (Add more broth or water if necessary.)
2. Meanwhile, cook onion and remaining garlic in oil in a heavy medium pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in ground meats along with 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, cranberries, vinegar, and brown sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. (Can cook longer to develop flavors, about an hour.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour sauce into skillet with cabbage and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley. (Serve with steamed rice or mashed potatoes.)
Per Serving: 408 Calories; 28g Fat (60.1% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 83mg Cholesterol; 378mg Sodium.