This simple recipe for German stuffed cabbage rolls or kohlrouladen is the quintessential German comfort food that satisfies in a macaroni and cheese kind of way.
If you crave more spice, try caraway, mustard or tomato sauce in the meat or the sauce. You also can use any variety of chopped meat you prefer or have on hand in this recipe. Ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey in any combination work well.
- For the Cabbage:
- 1 1/2 pound head cabbage
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
- For the Filling:
- 12 ounces ground beef (in Germany this is usually half pork, half beef)
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoons marjoram (dried, or oregano)
- Black pepper (freshly ground) to taste
- 1 to 2 strips bacon
- 1 cup broth (beef)
- For the Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed
- 1/4 cup water (cold)
Prepare the Cabbage
- Peel any old or discolored leaves from the outside of the head of cabbage.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the strunk or stem out of the cabbage, leaving a cone-shaped hole. Place the cabbage head in a large pot and fill the pot with water to cover or almost cover the cabbage. Add a teaspoon or two of salt.
- Bring the pot to a boil, remove from heat and let the cabbage sit for several minutes. Peel the outer leaves off, one by one and drain the water from them. If, after you remove several leaves, the rest are sticking together, put the rest of the cabbage back in the hot water for a few minutes and try again.
Make the Filling and Form the Rolls
- While the cabbage water is coming to a boil, mix the chopped meat with the egg, breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, marjoram or oregano, and pepper until well incorporated. Do not overmix because the meat will toughen and become pasty.
- Form 10 to 12 (2-inch-long) meat rolls using about 1/4 cup meat mixture for each roll.
- Lay out a cabbage leaf and cut out the thickest vein (only 1/3 to 2/3 of the way up the leaf) as necessary so you can roll the leaf. Place a meat roll in the thinner, cupped portion of the leaf, and fold the roll on three sides, then roll to the thickest part (like a burrito).
- Tie like a gift package (in quarters) with kitchen string or, in a pinch, regular thread. This works well if you have another pair of hands to help.
Cook the Cabbage Rolls
- Cut the bacon into small pieces and brown it in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels to be used as a garnish.
- Brown the cabbage rolls on two sides in the bacon fat.
- Add 1/2 cup beef broth (or enough to cover the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch), cover the pan with a lid and simmer 40 to 50 minutes, adding more of the remaining beef broth as necessary to keep the cabbage rolls in 1/4 to 1/2 inch of broth.
Make the Sauce and Serve
- Transfer the cabbage rolls to a warm serving dish and snip off the string. Add the cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water to the juices in the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Pour over cabbage rolls. Top with reserved bacon bits if desired.
- Serve with boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes.
Edited by Lora Wiley-Lennartz