Southern Best Cabbage Rolls

If you’ve spent any time in the south, you know that cabbage is common to have on New Year’s Day. It is also in many recipes or as a side dish, usually in the form of slaw. As far as the south goes, when it comes to cabbage, cabbage rolls are a timeless classic. There are also many cultures where cabbage rolls are also common. You can find cabbage rolls in Asia and Europe. Cabbage seems to hold up well in all economies, climates, and seasons!

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Growing up, I especially remember cabbage rolls at the beginning of the year. I looked forward to them then–and I still do! I have begun to enjoy sharing that tradition with my family. In fact, I love cabbage rolls so much I don’t save them for just once a year. I particularly enjoy cabbage rolls when it is cold outside in any capacity. Cabbage rolls are great for crisp fall weather and snuggle up winter months as well. It is also a go-to recipe whenever I want to introduce southern food to someone who may have never had it before.

So, you may be wondering how to make these at home. With the popularity of cabbage rolls in the south, and around the world, there are definitely a lot of variations out there. For this recipe, I will be sharing a tried-and-true southern method, but there is also a lot of how I grew up seeing my Mama make these cabbage rolls.

I begin by placing the cabbage leaves in boiling water for about ten minutes. The boiling is only meant to partially cook the cabbage so that is workable in the hands. Next drain the cabbage and let cool enough to where you can handle them. Then, you add the meat, onion, rice, egg, etc. From there you place them rolled up, seam down, in a pan. You then cover the dish with the tomato mixture, cover, and bake. So simple.

This dish turns out as delicious as you could possibly imagine! Cabbage rolls are great southern comfort food. They are filling, bursting with flavor, and fit most eating lifestyles.

BROWN PAPER BAG

A popular method with cabbage rolls is placing the head of cabbage in a brown paper bag in the freezer. As the method goes, you wait until the cabbage is a little frozen before you take it out of the freezer. By doing this, what happens is the leaves of the cabbage remove easily. In my opinion, this is a bad idea. I have tried it before, and I was left with icky cabbage leaves that just did not taste as good as they would without freezing.

BOILING

For this southern best cabbage roll recipe, I follow the cabbage boiling steps I saw my Mama doing when I was growing up.

-Bring water to a boil in a large stock pan.
-Remove the core with a knife.
-Slowly and carefully lower the cabbage into the boiling water. I recommend using tongs.

-As the cabbage cooks, pull off the leaves. Let the leaves drain onto paper towels or in a colander. As you do this, work slowly and be gentle. The goal is to not rip the leaves! This step is probably the most time consuming of the preparation part of the recipe, but it generally doesn’t take more than 10 minutes.

TIPS ON SMALL PIECES

These are the things you can do as your cabbage leaves get smaller:

  1. Overlap two leaves to create a larger leaf. Stuff and roll as you would a single cabbage leaf.
  2. Add the small leaves to the pan of cabbage rolls for bonus cabbage to include with the rolls.

COOKING TIME

Before beginning this recipe for Best Southern Cabbage Rolls, do be aware that cabbage rolls in general need to be in the oven for several hours. The long cooking time is what makes cabbage rolls soft and also infuses flavors. The cabbage rolls should not be crunchy or stiff. If you cannot cut the cabbage rolls with a fork, then they are probably not done.

 

MEAT OPTIONS FOR BEST SOUTHERN CABBAGE ROLLS

Growing up, my mama sometimes used a mixture of meats for this recipe. There were a lot of times it was all ground beef, but some other times it would contain pork. I love pork, so I always preferred those rolls (and often requested them!). Pork does add a bit more heartiness to the recipe, but you can go with your preference. You can also use turkey, chicken, etc. if you are after something lighter or have issues with red meat.

POINTER ABOUT OTHER MEAT
When using lean meat, you run the risk of your meat drying out when being cooked. You can combat this issue with adding a little bit of red meat or by adding a different source of fat.

Note:

Your leftovers will microwave well and will be good in the fridge for around four days.

SOUTHERN CABBAGE ROLLS INGREDIENTS

Ground beef

Cabbage

Rice

Olive oil

Onion

Eggs

Tomato soup

Chicken broth

Garlic powder

Salt and pepper

HOW TO MAKE SOUTHERN CABBAGE ROLLS

First STEP:

Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Carefully add your cabbage using tongs. Turn the cabbage every few minutes.

As the cabbage gets done, pull off the leaves. Let the leaves drain in a colander or on paper towels.

Second STEP:

Over medium heat, add oil to a cast iron. Cook the chopped until they are soft.

Third STEP:

Next, in a large mixing bowl, place the ground beef and then add the eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper, onions, and cooked rice. Mix ingredients with your hands.

Fourth STEP:

Once the cabbage is cool enough to touch, fill with 1/3 cup of the beef filling. Fold each leaf first at the sides and then the edges and roll as needed. Your cabbage roll should completely cover your beef filling.

Fifth STEP:

Place the cabbage rolls, seam down, into a lightly oiled 9×13 pan.

Set the oven to preheat at 325F.

Sixth STEP:

While the oven is preheating, get out a medium sized bowl and add your broth, salt and pepper, diced tomatoes, and soup.

Stir well.

Seventh STEP:

Cover the cabbage rolls with the tomato and broth mixture.

Using tinfoil, cover the dish completely.

Bake the Best Southern Cabbage Rolls for two hours at 325F. Allow the dish to sit for at least ten minutes before you serve.

Enjoy!

Southern Best Cabbage Rolls

Southern Best Cabbage Rolls

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • Ground beef, 2 lbs
  • 1 cabbage, large
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ Medium sized onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs, larges
  • 3 cans of tomato soup
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • ½ tsp. Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

First STEP:

Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Carefully add your cabbage using tongs. Turn the cabbage every few minutes.

As the cabbage gets done, pull off the leaves. Let the leaves drain in a colander or on paper towels.

Second STEP:

Over medium heat, add oil to a cast iron. Cook the chopped until they are soft.

Third STEP:

Next, in a large mixing bowl, place the ground beef and then add the eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper, onions, and cooked rice. Mix ingredients with your hands.

Fourth STEP:

Once the cabbage is cool enough to touch, fill with 1/3 cup of the beef filling. Fold each leaf first at the sides and then the edges and roll as needed. Your cabbage roll should completely cover your beef filling.

Fifth STEP:

Place the cabbage rolls, seam down, into a lightly oiled 9x13 pan.

Set the oven to preheat at 325F.

Sixth STEP:

While the oven is preheating, get out a medium sized bowl and add your broth, salt and pepper, diced tomatoes, and soup. Stir well.

Seventh STEP:

Cover the cabbage rolls with the tomato and broth mixture.

Using tinfoil, cover the dish completely. Bake the Best Southern Cabbage Rolls for two hours at 325F. Allow the dish to sit for at least ten minutes before you serve.

Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 488Total Fat: 24gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 480mgProtein: 25g