Cabbage Unrolls

All the yumminess of cabbage rolls, with a quarter of the work. Basic ingredients leave plenty of room to personalize it to your unique taste.

Cabbage rolls were a Christmas tradition when we were kids. No idea why, but that is the way with traditions. A while back, my friend Mandy showed me a recipe that includes the classic ingredients, but in a quicker and easier preparation. I spent some time trying out meat and sauce combinations, and different ways of cutting the cabbage, and now here we are!

Ready as quickly as 30 minutes.

Original post on Facebook

cabbage unrolls recipe - Derek Mah

Traditional Christmas Cabbage Unrolls

note: all quantities variable according to your taste.

1 large onion (about the size of a softball)
500g (1 lb) ground pork
2 tsp garlic powder
800ml (3 cups) can unsalted diced tomatoes
half of a small cabbage (from a whole cabbage roughly the size of a volleyball)

  1. In a large skillet or stew pot, brown diced onions in a layer of vegetable oil, or use bacon fat for serious decadence. Drain the onions and set them aside, leaving the oil in the pot.
  2. Drop the ground pork and garlic powder into the oil. Brown the meat, breaking it up as it cooks.
  3. Add diced tomatoes to ground pork, and simmer until tomatoes start breaking up, about fifteen minutes. Whisk in a bit of corn starch if you like thicker sauce.
  4. Add chopped cabbage and onions to the pork and tomato mixture in the pot. Cover and simmer five to ten minutes.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste. Done!

Makes enough to feed four to six people. Double the ingredients and use a whole cabbage for a party or pot-luck sized dish.


Dress It Up

There are lots of ways you can go with this. The recipe is pared down and intended to be augmented by your unique taste. The longer you simmer before adding the cabbage and onions, the saucier it will become. Tomato paste gives a real tomato hit. Add bacon, or substitute ground beef, pulled pork, pulled chicken, or pulled turkey as your meat. Beer or wine is nice during the simmering stage. Serve over cooked rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes. Try Frank’s Red Hot for a buffalo wings variant when using poultry.

Chopping Your Cabbage

(not a euphemism)

The way you chop your cabbage will have a huge effect on how your dish comes out. My favourite shape is small pinky-length slices roughly 5mm (1/4″) wide. This results in quick cooking and a nice texture. Added bonus that it clumps nicely and stays on your fork.

Nacho chip sized triangles give a nice floppy cooked leaf. Chop the stems a bit differently, maybe in coleslaw shreds, or avoid them entirely.

Long wide ribbons give a more traditional cabbage roll feel without having to actually roll anything. It can be fun to roll a bit of meat and sauce up in each leaf ribbon as you eat, though it may begin to feel like work after a while.

Try your own cabbage chopping shapes and see what you like!

Picking Your Meat

(also not a euphemism)

VEGETABLE OPTION: use a hamburger substitute, or try this easy method. Get 500g of the firmest tofu you can find, crumble it, sprinkle with garlic powder, smoked paprika, finely ground pepper, and a dash of soy sauce. Bake on top rack or toaster oven until lightly browned. Add to pot during cabbage leaves step, and simmer everything ten minutes.

TURKEY (or chicken): use up those leftovers! Shred turkey, brown with a bit of olive oil, add some Frank’s Red Hot at the end for a nice kick.

PULLED PORK: any cut of pork, braised and pulled apart, browned with a splash of any sweet barbecue sauce.

STAMPEDE SPECIAL: same as pulled pork, but with beef. For this one, thicken final dish with extra corn starch, serve in a bun with more barbecue sauce. Super messy. Eat outdoors.