Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grandma’s Stuffed Cabbage/Russian Style

There are a few things I will always remember about the holidays.  One is the way my mom went out of her way to celebrate two Christmas’s a year.  My grandparents were immigrants to this country of Russian ancestry.  They brought many customs with them.  At Christmas they would put straw under and on the eating table to remember Jesus’ lowly birth.  They had other specific ways to celebrate involving food. Since they lived in Pennsylvania and we didn’t get to be with them at Christmas, we celebrated regular Christmas on December 25th and Russian Christmas on January 7th.    

 On Russian Christmas Eve, Mom would set up and decorate a small tabletop tree.  We would have a special meal prepared with seven dishes, all of Russian background.  My favorite was the stuffed cabbage.

When my mom was a child, her mother, Lena, would rise early, cooking for a houseful of children. She would go to the slaughterhouse for fresh ground beef.  As Grandma mixed the ground beef and rice, Grandpa would sneak bites of the raw beef, certainly not recommended today. Grandma harvested cabbage from her garden across the road from the house.

Russia is actually the largest consumer of cabbage worldwide. Cabbage is used in many ways, ranging from eating raw and simple steaming to pickling, stewing, sauteing or braising. Pickling is one of the most popular ways of preserving cabbage, creating dishes such as sauerkraut.

 Cabbage is used extensively in Polish and Russian cuisine. It is one of the main food crops, and sauerkraut is a frequent dish, as well as being used to stuff other dishes such as golabki (stuffed cabbage) and pierogi (filled pasta). Other eastern European countries, such as Hungary and Romania, also have traditional dishes that feature cabbage as a main ingredient. In the United States, cabbage is used primarily for the production of coleslaw, followed by fresh market use and sauerkraut production. 

Holidays and food just go together, and make memories for a lifetime. Do you have a special dish passed on from grandparents or other relatives?
 My granddaughters, Ava and Sadie last Christmas


Stuffed Cabbage

2 ½ pounds lean ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

1 pound bacon, cut small

1 pound cooked rice

Salt, pepper, Nature Seasoning, to taste



1 can tomato paste

1 can tomato sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar


Wash rice, cook ten minutes. Drain excess water, set aside. Fry bacon and  onion til golden brown. Drain excess oil.

Put rice in large mixing bowl. Mix in ground beef, bacon and onions and mix well; add seasonings. Set aside.

Cut cabbage, core out about two inches deep and place head of cabbage in boiling water to steam until leaves can be removed easily. Repeat until you remove all cabbage leaves that are big enough to roll. Line the bottom of a large pot with leaves you don’t use.

Scoop filling and place in leave, tucking in ends and rolling. Pack stuffed cabbage in pot, then fill with hot water until barely covered. Place a plate on top, weighted down to keep stuffed cabbage from floating. Cook on medium low for forty-five minutes, then pour sauce into pot and cook fifteen minutes more. Good served with hot sauce or ketchup.


Today’s writing prompt: Jakob lifted the forkful of ground beef, rice and cabbage toward his mouth when his cat, Ralphsky, lunged…



  1. Sounds like a very interesting recipe. Can't imagine cooking the cabbage rolls with a plate on top of them. I'll have to try this.

  2. Mom put the plate to keep them packed in. Sometimes we'd put something heavy on the plate to hold it down...