1 large green cabbage
2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
A preliminary note–If there is any trick to stuffed cabbage, it’s in preparing the leaves for stuffing. If you try to pry leaves off a raw cabbage, they will generally crack, which is why many recipes call for boiling the cabbage whole for several minutes before trying to remove the leaves. When the leaves are limp, they are easier to remove, also easier to roll around the filling. Some recipes also call for shaving the thick center rib off the leaves to facilitate rolling. Cabbages being what they are, it’s unlikely that all your leaves will be perfect, no matter how you handle them. But don’t let that worry you. Genuine stuffed cabbage should look a bit crude. Sidney is adamant on this point.
On with it then–Peel the tough, dark green leaves off the cabbage. Dig out the core with a knife. Boil the cabbage in a large pot of water for 5 to 10 minutes, until the outer leaves begin to look translucent. Remove cabbage from boiling water; plunge it into cold water. Gently peel off leaves, one at a time. Sometimes if you run cold tap water into the cabbage behind the leaf you’re working on, it will help loosen it. You’ll need about two dozen leaves. Save left over cabbage.
Combine ground beef, rice, eggs, onion, carrot, and salt, and mix thoroughly. Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of filling on center of a leaf. Fold up tip end, then sides, then fold down rib end to make a package. Repeat until filling is exhausted. Place the rolls in a heavy casserole. You may need to make 2 layers. Wedge rolls tightly together. Cut leftover cabbage in slices and use it to fill in any odd corners. Weigh rolls down with one or two heavy plates. Pour in enough cold water just to cover plates. Add sugar and vinegar. Bring to boil over medium heat. Put lid on casserole; reduce heat to simmer, and cook for one hour. Serve in casserole. Serves 4 to 6.