Monday, January 3, 2011

Savory Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

On New Year's Day, it's been such a tradition in my mom's and aunt's Hungarian kitchen to have a huge casserole of stuffed cabbage, I have such fond memories from Cleveland, every New Year's Eve was a celebration of family, and friends in our house for the New Year's Eve, in our full "party basement" which most northern houses have...I sure miss that. On New Year's Day, was a huge early dinner celebration at my aunt and uncle's, with our families, siblings, and cousins. Every 1st of the year, my aunt would roast a cute "little" pig...(uggghh) the thought of it now, scares me...I could not be staring the poor innocent piglet in the face...ohh yes, the face, and the poor little mouth with an apple in it!
Anyway, these were traditions of the sixties, and since then, we had our tradition for our children, and times, have changed and we keep moving on with time, moving on to a New Year, and hopefully, a better tomorrow for all!

I have not made Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in several years, simply for the reason that my dear departed aunt
who lived next door to us made it every years, here in S. Florida, as my children were growing up, keeping up with the traditions. It's been over ten years that she's gone, and so have the Hungarian traditions.
But of course, if you live near by here, in S. Florida, and  wish to eat authentic stuffed cabbage rolls, you can visit the Hungarian/American club here, locally, in Lake Worth, where they still keep up with the authentic traditions.

Well, for some reason,  when I saw a  spicy Korean condiment of cabbage called "Kimchi" in my daughter's refrigerator, which I thought was so bizarre, because she is so sensitive to hot spices, and that is one spicy side dish! Of course, I ended up with the Kimchi, but that's another story!

I happened to have ground beef, the 1 1/2 heads of cabbage (really need 2) ...2 lbs of authentic homemade Italian sausage from our favorite Italian market, called Mario's in Delray Beach. I did not use Hungarian sausage because smoked Hungarian, or Polish sausage would be perfect for the cabbage, or use smoked ham hocks, which all have so much sodium nitrate, that again, my daughter cannot have, which unfortunately causes extreme headaches for some people.

As you can see, I have my "misen plaz" already set up for the second production...just look at those awesome fresh, and tender homemade sausages. These people have been in the meat market business for at least 30yrs, and the same recipe is passed on from generation, to generation of sausage makers. On the left is my very favorite Hungarian paprika, and on the right is a 32 oz. jar of my store brand's sauer kraut...looked all over for the ones in the bag, but they were all sold out on New Year's Eve. This is a very acceptable kind, better than the ones in the can, which seems soggy to me. This was perfect, and crispy sauer kraut....and it's not just for "hot dogs"
Mix together 1 lb. of ground  beef, 2 links of sweet sausage, removed from the casings, 1 cup of partially cooked long grain conventional rice, like "Uncle Ben's" cooked for about 10 minutes, and drained from the excess liquid. Just mix all the ingredients together with 1 large chopped onion, 2, or 3 cloves of minced garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and of course good Hungarian paprika, about 2 teaspoonful.
I apologize for these cabbage leaves for looking so "raggedy, and retarded"...my daughter insisted of taking photos, any way!...The cabbage leaves are removed separately with a sharp knife and boiled until they get soft enough to roll. Don't use the inner part, that need to be chopped up, and sauteed. As you can see, I cut most of the hard veins out, they are chewy, and makes it harder to roll.
Actually, this is a perfect leaf, total of 18 leaves. Just scoop out a small portion like this, place in the center, fold the end up from the bottom first, then the top, and fold over the right side, and then the left side to cover, into a little "piggy blanket"...so cute!
Here comes the good part..."waste not, want not"...the inner part of the cabbage that is crinkly, and cannot be used to roll is chopped up, and sauteed with onions, garlic,  in a small amount of vegetable oil, and about 3/4 cup of water added, and a teaspoon of paprika. Just saute for a few minutes until still crisp, but well incorporated. Adding this, and the rinsed sauerkraut to the casserole.
This is what it looks like, before you place the casserole into a 350 degree oven, covered, with aluminum foil.
Bake for 1 1/2 hrs, covered, remove cover, and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or so, but not longer. (you don't want cabbage to burn, or brown)
I used 1 15oz. can of diced tomatoes, and poured half of it over the top, added 1 can of water, from the tomato can, drizzle a little olive oil, and ready to bake.
I ended up with extra sausage, mostly the hot sausage, so I sauteed the sausage pieces, added more sauer kraut, and divided the tomatoes, and also added a small amount of water into this casserole, and baked both dishes at the same time in the 350 degrees oven, for a total time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. I seemed to surprise my family, because I started this about 10 AM, and we had an early lunch, along with Lora's lentils, which was ohh, so good. The little ones, like the cabbage rolls, called it "meatballs" but unfortunately, there were some hot pieces of sausages in the cabbage casserole, so that didn't go over too well, but the cabbage rolls were not overly spicy. They were just right...

While everyone slept, I was up early, because the little pets were so happy that I stayed over, they wanted to spend time with me, so I just leisurely sneaked out to the patio at 7:30 AM, had a nice cup of caffe latte, with a piece of my daughter's cake, and I felt so great to be alive, on the first morning of 2011!
This is little Stella...saying "hello"...My granddaughter's second little pup, she just loves the name Stella, and probably would have liked it for herself!
This is Luigi ...Lui, for short, he is my "sweetheart"...so sweet and loyal-he sulks when I leave their house and sits by the door for a long time. He is ferocious with big dogs, and forgets that he is just a little Chihuahua!
One time he got into a brawl with the neighbor's boxer, jumped up, and bit Charlie's nose, in the meantime, Michetta, their cat, who is also my little buddy, got upset, and he jumped up and bit my wrist, which required immediate medical "outpatient" attention at a nearby walk-in clinic, for fear of getting a nasty infection!...but don't get me wrong, I still love them all!
So, there you have it...all three were hanging out with me on New Year's morning. Michetta, is a male cat, but so sweet and gentle, and he likes to hang out on my daughter's patio. He lives next door, but I seem to have adopted him, because I feed him also! He is a wise and at the same time an adventerous kitty, loves to torture, lizards, and little snakes, and brings them to his owner's front door, who happens to be my daughter and son-in-law's BFF, and traveling companions to North Carolina!

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