Stuffed cabbage rolls are definitely a Pennsylvania treat. But making this recipe can be time consuming and complex; you have to cook the whole cabbage leaves and separately cook the filling and roll up it inside the half cooked leaves, sauce it and bake it. This is just way, way easier and pretty much better in my opinion. Less work, less heat in my kitchen (I did it in my Instant Pot but you could use a slow cooker or bake in the oven.) It isn’t a pretty dish to photograph and I frankly forgot to take pictures of making it. I debated even sharing it due to this but the flavor is so delish I knew I was gonna make it again so I wanted you to have the option to give it a try.
This recipe is very homey; great in these trying times. I used some outside cabbage leaves but any fresh cabbage will do. I used ground chuck but lots of people swear by ground pork or even ground turkey. The amount of spices is variable and you can use any sort of tomato product you wish to get that wonderful tomato flavor in there. I added some smoked paprika and a few raisins to make it like my old recipe. Sometimes I add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar to zip it up a bit. Fiddle with the ingredients as you wish. It will still be a comfort meal your family will appreciate. Makes about 6 servings.
Angie’s Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole
1 lb ground beef
3 big garlic cloves, minced
1 med-large onion diced
2 bay leaves
About 4-5 cups of cabbage cut into 1-2 inch squares/chunks
1 can (13.5 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
8 oz can plain tomato sauce (can leave out and use another cup of broth)
2 to 3 cups beef or chicken broth (Do 3 cups if you want it soupier)
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. oregano
A Tbsp brown sugar (optional…some folks love, some hate this) or 2 tsp. regular white sugar
2/3 cup long grain white or parboiled brown rice (package will say cook time is 20 minutes), uncooked
1.5 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
¼ cup raisins (optional)
Directions: In instant pot or big pan brown ground beef: I sprayed it with cooking spray before starting. Or use a tsp or two of mild olive oil. While it browns chop the onions, the cabbage, open the can of tomatoes and get the spices out. After the beef is half browned add the onions, stir a couple minutes; add the garlic too. Add the spices, bay leaves and stir. Add the tomatoes, broth, tomato sauce and paste, vinegar, Worstershire sauce and cabbage, stir, then add the sugar, rice and salt/pepper. Stir well so nothing is stuck to the bottom. Cook in IP under pressure for 9 minutes. Let rest 10 min before depressurizing and adding optional raisins. Correct seasoning; add more salt and pepper as desired and serve. You can bake it in oven for 45 minutes. Slow cooker for maybe 6 hours? I don’t use that function often but I am sure it would work fine for this recipe.
Originally published in 2020. This is an updated version with a number of ingredient additions and less cooking time.