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Pork-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Pork-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Various renditions of this Eastern European staple are found in Poland, Hungary and Austria. Here, the sweet-and-sour balance of the pork stuffing and braising liquid highlights the traditional flavors. The stuffed cabbage can be prepared a few hours ahead and reheated. Serve with buttered egg noodles.

Ingredients:

For the cabbage rolls:

  • 1 green cabbage, about 2 lb., bruised or discolored outer leaves discarded
  • 1 lb. lean ground pork
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1 egg
  • 3 green onions, white and light green portions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

  • 4 bacon slices
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup small raisins
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar

Directions:

To make the cabbage rolls, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Using a sharp paring knife, cut out the core from the cabbage. Lower the cabbage into the boiling water and cook until the leaves soften, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. When the cabbage is cool enough to handle, gently peel off 12 large outer leaves. Drain the leaves and let cool. Coarsely chop enough of the remaining cabbage to make 1/4 cup.

In a bowl, combine the chopped cabbage, pork, rice, egg, green onions, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Using your hands, gently but thoroughly blend the ingredients. Divide the pork filling among the cabbage leaves. Fold the core end of each leaf over the filling, then fold in the sides and roll up the leaf. Set aside.

Preheat an oven to 325°F.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon, turning, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Add the onion, celery and carrot to the pot and sauté over medium heat until the vegetables are tender and tinged with gold, about 5 minutes. Stir in the caraway seeds, tomatoes, broth, raisins and vinegar. Place the cabbage rolls, seam sides down, in a single layer in the pan, spooning some of the liquid over the rolls. Cover, transfer to the oven and bake until the cabbage rolls are tender and the pork filling is cooked through, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer the cabbage rolls to warmed bowls. Ladle the cooking juices over the top, garnish with the crumbled bacon and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking, by Melanie Barnard, Charles Pierce & Dennis Kelly (Oxmoor House, 2008).