As a child I always ate my vegetables and sometimes left the meat. But when my mother made stuffed cabbage (without the spiciness), I cleaned my plate and asked for seconds. Some people call this dish “stuffed cabbage leaves”, but it was simply called “stuffed cabbage” at our house.
1 Small head of cabbage
1 lb. ground beef
1 Cup cooked rice
1 Poblano chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Large pinch hot pepper flakes
1 Small onion, chopped
1 Small green pepper, finely chopped
1-15 oz. can stewed tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
Tear off 10 to 12 large, whole cabbage leaves, rinse and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil, once boiling, drop the cabbage leave and pot and turn heat off and cover pot while you make the ‘stuffing.’ The cabbage leaves will wilt and become pliable enough to hold the ground beef mixture.
Mix ground beef together with the cooked rice, poblano chili, onion, green pepper, hot pepper flakes, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Mix well, but do not over-mix. Remove the cabbage leaves from the hot water and allow to become cool enough to handle. Pour hot water out of pot, it will be used again.
Flatten one cabbage leaf and place scoop of beef mix in the center. Wrap the leaf around mixture, envelope style, placing overlapping leaf face down. You can use tooth picks to hold lettuce together. After you have used all of the lettuce leaves (you should not have any beef mix left), place lettuce, wrapped side down in pot. Pour stewed tomatoes over the stuffed cabbage leaves and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to one hour.
Allow stuffed cabbage to rest for 10 minutes before serving with hot brown or white rice. Makes 5 to 6 servings. Cooked carrots is perfect with this meal.
*Poblanos are mildly hot, not as hot as jalapeno chili peppers. I have found that poblanos can run from mildly hot to hot. If you find that your sauce is not as spicy as you like it add a couple of dashes hot pepper sauce or a small chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. These chipolte’s can be found at your supermarket in 7 oz cans.
*Save remaining cabbage to make coleslaw or to saute. Plain sauteed cabbage is quick and easy to make. Prepare the cabbage by slicing it thin. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil and add the sliced cabbage. Lower heat, cover pot and let the cabbage cook until it is tender. Add salt, black pepper, and one tablespoon of light olive oil (or bacon fat) before serving.