Trick takes tedium out of cabbage

April 10, 1991|By Gerald Etter | Gerald Etter,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Making stuffed cabbage rolls is generally done on weekends, when more time is available. They not only can take from one to 1 1/2 hours to cook, but preparing the leaves can be time-consuming, difficult and frustrating. But, there is an easier and faster way.

First, boil some water. Let a head of cabbage rest in it for about 10 minutes, so that the leaves become limp and thus easy to remove without tearing. They also become pliable enough to be rolled around meat without breaking or cracking. And while the cabbage head is in the boiling water, the meat can be mixed and the sauce made.

Once the cabbage rolls are stuffed, the microwave will cook them in as little as seven to ten minutes. Since microwave cooking is similar to steaming -- the preferred method for stuffed cabbage -- it's a perfect vehicle for this dish.

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage

1 large head cabbage

1 pound ground beef

1/3 cup cracked wheat

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 egg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup tomato sauce

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Carefully cut around cabbage core, and place head in boiling water for about ten minutes. Remove and let drain. This will make the cabbage leaves limp and easier to work with. When cabbage is cool enough to handle, remove eight leaves.

Meanwhile, mix the ground beef with the cracked wheat, mustard, egg, salt, pepper and milk. Divide mixture into eight equal portions, place a portion on the stem end of each cabbage leaf, and roll up. Ends of rolls can be trimmed and then tucked in.

Place rolls, seam sides down, in a circle in a three-quart round microwavable casserole.

Mix together the brown sugar, tomato sauce and lemon juice. Pour mixture over stuffed cabbage rolls. Cover casserole tightly, and microwave on high (100 percent) for seven to ten minutes.

Check for doneness. Be careful not to overcook as cabbage leaves can become tough. Makes four servings.

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