This recipe holds a special place in my heart – it is the only recipe I have from my grandmother Sylvia of blessed memory.
Sweet and sour stuffed cabbage is a classic Ashkenazic (Eastern European) recipe that is rarely served today. That’s a pity, because when properly made, it is a flavorful and delicious meal with strong iconic roots for many families hailing from that region.
I include the recipe as she made it – for me, I would probably add a spoonful of Major Grey-style chutney and some crushed garlic to the sauce, but then, it wouldn’t be hers, would it…
FYI – her secret ingredient were the crushed gingersnap cookies in the gravy.
Food is perhaps the strongest and most visceral connection to memory and the past – it defines our core essence and evokes an emotional response as few other things can.
My memories of her have faded after 30+ years…but when I make this dish, the smell of it alone sparks a flood of emotion and her face locks into focus.
Thank you, Grandma Sylvia – you are missed and remembered.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
3 pound head of green cabbage
1 pound ground beef
½ cup cooked rice
1 onion — grated
salt and pepper — to taste
2 cups beef broth
1 onion, studded with 3 cloves
1 bay leaf
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 to 4 Tbsps. tomato puree
½ cup golden raisins
9 gingersnaps — crushed
Using a thin, long-bladed paring knife, cut the core from the cabbage and discard. Loosen the leaves and remove 12 large outer leaves. Steam or blanch leaves until flexible. Place rib side up and trim heavy center rib. Turn over.
Mix ground beef, rice, onion, egg and salt and pepper to taste. Place 1 Tbsp. of the mixture on each leaf. Roll towards tips, tucking sides in. Place in deep pot. Add beef broth to cover completely. Add onion with cloves to pot with bay leaf, lemon juice, brown sugar and tomato puree. Cover and simmer slowly for 1 hour. Add raisins and gingersnaps. Simmer for 15 minutes more. Stir sauce to blend.
Arrange cabbage in single layer in flat baking pan, 3-4″ deep. Season sauce with salt and pepper and pour over cabbage. Bake at 375 F. for 30 minutes or until sauce is thick and rolls brown.