Buckle your seat belts, folks. We’re in for a labor-intensive post.
Having time on my hands during this holiday break (hooray for nine days off!), I’ve been trying my hand at a few more complicated dishes in the kitchen.
Two dishes I’ve wanted to try cooking for quite a while are:
- Beef-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
First I prepared the filling: a mixture of cooked brown rice, raw lean ground beef (I used 90% lean sirloin), a lightly beaten egg, finely diced onion, and seasonings.
Now first, before assembly begins, you’re going to need to acquire about one dozen large cabbage leaves. Green cabbage seems to be the way to go. Get yourself a nice big head of green cabbage.
The process of removing the leaves is not too difficult, it just requires a bit of time. First I tried gently and slowly peeling the outer leaves off a washed head of raw cabbage, but they kept ripping. So then, I just dropped the entire head of cabbage (core removed) into a pot of simmering water for a couple minutes, removed it with a ladle, and then after letting it cool for a moment, tried peeling the leaves away again, and it was SO MUCH EASIER. I highly recommend this method. If you get a few rips in the leaves, also that is fine. For any leaves that are not limp and pliable after removing, cook them for a minute or two in the simmering pot, then remove and cool before assembling rolls.
Then, simply add in about 1/4 cup of the beef mixture into the middle of each leaf, fold in the short edges, and roll it up. It absolutely does not need to be perfect. These below were two of the “prettiest” ones, but trust me, there were some rather “rustic” ones in the pot too!
Make a layer of assembled cabbage rolls in the base of your crockpot, pour over half of the tomato sauce mixture, then add a second layer of cabbage rolls, and top with the rest of the tomato sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. That’s it!
Next up, about 45 minutes before I wanted to eat, I prepared the spaetzle dough.
Spaetzle, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a type of small dumpling popular in Central European cuisine. I was so excited to try spaetzle while I was in Dresden, Germany this past summer! It is total comfort food.
The process of making spaetzle is basically shown above, and involves:
- a) Pour beaten egg and milk mixture into a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- b) Mix the dough by gradually drawing the dry ingredients into the dough, until a smooth, thick dough is formed. Let dough rest 10-15 minutes.
- c) Pour the dough, in small batches, into a large-holed colander. Use a spatula to coerce the dough through the holes and into a pot of salted, simmering water. (You can actually by specific tools for making spaetzle, but this worked just fine for me.)
- d) Allow the dumplings to simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they float to the top of the water.
- e) Remove the dumplings from the pot, and quickly rinse with cool water.
- f) Spaetzle is done! I did sauté it in butter and oil for a few minutes before adding to the sauce, below.
Next you’ll want to have some kind of sauce or gravy to serve with your spaetzle. It would be great beneath a saucy beef stew, meat gravy, or with cheese and onions (like I had in Dresden).
In this case, I used the Food Network’s Tyler Florence’s recipe for “Mushroom and Mustard Spaetzle” and prepared this savory, creamy sauce in which I tossed the spaetzle.
Beef-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and Mushroom and Mustard Spaetzle make for an amazing dinner combination!
Beef-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Recipe lightly adapted from Taste of Home
- 1 medium head cabbage
- 1 to 1-1/4 pounds ground beef
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning (such as Mrs. Dash or Lawry’s)
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 can (16 ounces) tomato sauce
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Remove the core from cabbage [be careful!], and immerse the entire head into a pot of simmering salted water for a 3-4 minutes; remove it carefully with a ladle or tongs. After letting it cool for a moment, gently peel the outer leaves away. If you get a few rips in the leaves, that is fine. For any leaves that are not limp and pliable after removing (especially the more interior ones), return to the pot and allow to cook them for a minute or two, then remove and cool before assembling rolls.
- In a bowl, combine raw ground beef, cooked rice, onion, egg and seasonings; mix well. Put about 1/4 cup meat mixture on each cabbage leaf. Fold in sides, starting at an unfolded edge, and roll up leaf completely to enclose filling. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling. Place rolls in a slow cooker.
- Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, water and lemon juice or vinegar; pour over cabbage rolls. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours in a slow cooker.
What I Changed: I used brown rice. I also changed the directions to reflect how I cooked and removed the cabbage leaves, and that I used a slow cooker.
My rating: 8.0/10
Mushroom and Mustard Spaetzle
Recipe from Tyler Florence of the Food Network.
I followed this recipe to a T and it worked well. Follow the link for full instructions!
My rating: 8.3/10
The spaetzle were wonderful. I really enjoyed the creamy mushroom and mustard sauce, but I might try another sauce next time. Or cheese and onion!
PS – I am pretty sure I’ve slaughtered the use of the word spaetzle/spatzle in this post and there are other ways to spell and use the word (like spätzle, spaetzen, etc.). I am definitely not an expert in the German language [though I am German!].