Cabbage Rolls with Bay Leaf

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1 medium head green cabbage, core removed and tough outer leaves discarded

Immersing a head of cabbage in boiling water for five minutes, or so, will make the leaves pliable enough for stuffing. Some people prefer to place the cabbage in the freezer overnight so it can be thawed and its leaves peeled away the next day. Thawed cabbage leaves will be soft and pliable.

1 pound ground beef

1 large egg, slightly beaten

1 cup cooked rice

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small rib celery, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnishing

3/4 teaspoon thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 (10-3/4 ounces) cans condensed cream of tomato soup

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup water

2 dried bay leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Parboil cabbage, core side down, for about 5-7 minutes; remove from water and drain. Separate leaves. To make stuffing leaves easier, cut out thick part of stem with a small v-cut. In a large mixing bowl, mix ground beef with egg, onion, garlic, celery, parsley, thyme, pepper, salt and paprika. Blend in 2 tablespoons of the tomato soup and fold in rice.

Combine remaining soup with red wine and water. Spoon some of the tomato soup/wine mixture onto the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch, 2-inch deep baking pan. Cupping one cabbage leaf in your hand, place a few tablespoons of meat into the center of the leaf. (Do not overstuff.)

Fold in both sides of the leaf, then roll, placing seam down into pan. Repeat until meat mixture is used, about 8-10 leaves.

Pour remaining soup mixture over rolls. Place bay leaves in casserole.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until meat is cooked, frequently spooning sauce of rolls.

Remove bay leaves before serving. Casserole may be prepared a day in advance, refrigerated and brought to room temperature before baking. May be also be baked, cooled and then frozen for up to three months.

To reheat, thaw in refrigerator, bring to room temperature and bake as directed. Recipe may be doubled, using three cans of soup, 1/2 cup of wine and 1/2 cup water. Serves 4.

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