Things I remember about my Ukranian grandmother:
- Her Brooklyn accent whenever I talked to her on the phone.
- She was a big believer of soaking her poultry in brine before cooking.
3. Her stuffed cabbage recipe.
Sad to say, I never actually met my grandmother in real life since we lived on opposite coasts. However, I knew her from stories, chats on the phone and food. When my father got a craving for those particular meals his mother did so well, he’d call her up and with a legal pad in hand, write down every detail meticulously.
For stuffed cabbage, you needed a pork and beef mixture, boiled rice and her secret ingredient….all spice (which appropriately contained all the spices she needed-cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg.)
So, when it came time for me to make this recipe for my family, I went with a bit of an Asian twist and substituted Chinese 5 spice instead of allspice. The end result tastes like Christmas only with an Eastern European flair. This dish is fast becoming a favorite of my husband’s and, I like to think, my grandmother would approve.
Pork and beef meatballs wrapped around tender cabbage leaves and baked in tomato sauce. My Ukrainian grandmother’s recipe but with an Asian twist. #beef #pork #cabbage #dinner
- 1 medium to large green cabbage
- 350 g (~12 oz) pork belly or ground pork
- 350 g (~12 oz) round eye steak or ground beef
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) Chinese cooking wine
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
- 1 cup boiled rice
- 2–3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 egg
- 28 oz (~800 ml) tomato sauce
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2–3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
- salt and pepper to taste
- sour cream (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200 C / 400 F
- Rinse cabbage and remove any damaged or discolored leaves.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. When water is boiling, add the whole head of cabbage (uncut, don’t take of the leaves) in the boiling water. Cover and let cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Carefully remove the head of cabbage from the water. Let drain and cool. When cabbage is cool enough to handle, gently peel off the leaves from the stem.
- Heat 2-3 tbsp of olive oil in a medium to large saucepan. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft over medium/ medium high heat. When onions are soft and translucent, add 3/4 tsp of Chinese 5 Spice powder and let cook for 2-3 minutes, then take off heat and let cool.
- Remove skin from pork belly. Cut up beef and pork belly into small pieces (no bigger than 1 cm).
- In a food processor, combine pork belly and beef with cooking wine. Blitz until meat is properly minced. If you have a meat grinder, use that instead to ground the meat. If not, you can always buy ground pork and ground beef. Just make sure that the meat isn’t too lean as lack of fat can lead to the meat drying out.
- Combine beef and pork mixture with cooked rice, seasoned 5 spice onions and garlic, 1 tsp of sea salt, 1 egg and a heavy sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper together. Mix until everything is evenly combined.
- Put 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of meat mixture into a soft cabbage leaf. Wrap up and place in a casserole dish, wrapped up side down. Repeat until all meat mixture is used up.
- Cover with tomato sauce.
- Bake in the oven for 45 min to 1 hour until center is stiff and bounces back to the touch.
- Serve with sour cream, mashed potatoes and a good vodka.
- In a large saucepan, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and cook over medium / medium high heat.
- Add chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook until soft and translucent.
- Add tomato sauce, 2 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of dried Italian seasoning. Stir, cover and cook on medium/medium high heat for 5-7 minutes.
- Category: Main
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: European
Keywords: Stuffed Cabbage, Beef, Pork, cabbage