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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce with Caraway Potatoes


Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce

Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce


Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are a great use of an inexpensive vegetable and are loved by many. Some "Kohlrouladen" are braised in a simple broth which is thickened at the end, while other cooks prefer a tomato sauce for theirs. This classic dish is spiced with mustard, caraway and parsley to give it a traditional Old-World taste.

Makes 8 cabbage rolls, 4 - 6 servings

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Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 - 6


  • ***Rolls***
  • 2 - 4 lb. head of cabbage
  • 1 tsp. caraway (optional)
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 lb. ground pork (or beef again)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. bread crumbs or one piece of bread
  • 1 T. prepared mustard
  • 1 T. chopped, fresh parsley
  • Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste
  • ***Sauce***
  • 1 T. oil or clarified butter
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 2 c. broth
  • ***Potatoes***
  • 1 lb. small potatoes
  • 1 tsp. caraway
  • 1 T. butter
  • Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add caraway (optional). Cut the end off the cabbage, then cut the core out in a cone shape. This detaches the leaves from the base, but do not pull them apart, yet.

Place the entire cabbage in the water and parboil for several minutes. After about five minutes, the outer leaves are loose enough to separate from the head. Use two spoons to gently tease the leaves apart. Remove them from the water and drain on towels. Try to remove about 16 leaves this way.

Mix the ground meat, onion garlic, egg, mustard, parsley and bread crumbs or crumbled bread in a large bowl. Add about 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste. Mix well.

How to roll the cabbage leaves

Lay a cabbage leaf on your work surface and cut the thick, middle vein out in a V-shape. It does not roll well and remains chewy. Do this for a second leaf and overlap, with the V-cut facing you. Sometimes you can use a rolling pin to flatten the leaves a bit so they roll up better. If the leaves are small, use a third leaf.

Use about 1/2 cup of meat mixture to fill. Form it into an elongated meatball and place at the top of the cabbage (the thin part).

Roll the cabbage tightly around the meat. After the first turn, tuck the sides in and keep rolling.

Tie the cabbage rolls with kitchen string (video) or pin them with toothpicks or cabbage roll needles (these are long needles like turkey trussing pins).

Brown and Braise Cabbage Rolls

Heat the oil or clarified butter in a pan with a lid. The pan should be large enough to fit all your cabbage rolls in a single layer.

Brown the cabbage rolls on two sides, then remove to a plate. Add the onion and tomato paste and sauté for about two minutes. Add the broth to the pan to deglaze and mix well.

Add the cabbage rolls back into the pan, cover with a lid and braise for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size and thickness of leaves as well as altitude (high altitude, longer cook time). Turn rolls over once.

In the meantime, scrub and boil the small potatoes in salted, caraway water. Peel, then brown in another pan with butter and dust with freshly ground nutmeg.

Remove the cabbage rolls to a plate, allow the sauce to cook down a bit and thicken with a cornstarch slurry if you wish. (dissolve 2 - 3 teaspoons cornstarch in 2 - 3 tablespoons cold water, then stir into sauce until sauce comes to a boil). Taste sauce and adjust seasoning.

Remove the kitchen string or toothpicks from the cabbage rolls and serve with the sauce and potatoes.

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