I can remember years ago, going to my grandparents’ house on a Sunday and my grandmother serving up a feast that looked somewhat like what might have been at a Polish wedding. There would be chicken noodle soup, meatballs and mushroom gravy, kielbasa and saurkraut, all of the side dishes you could imagine and my favorite, stuffed cabbage.
When she made the stuffed cabbage, Grandma would literally fill a 7 quart roaster with the cabbage rolls, steaming the cabbage leaves, making the meat filling, and rolling between 40 and 50 of the rolls. Her reasoning was that if you were going to make them at all, you may as well make a lot!
That philosophy held true until she was no longer able and was practical when there might be anywhere from 8 to 12 people dropping in on a Sunday, but with today’s lifestyle and our much smaller family spread across town and across the globe, most days I’m cooking for two. This dish has all of the components of Grandma’s stuffed cabbage and smells and tastes exactly like hers with only about 20 minutes prep time. I didn’t use the rice which was a traditional ingredient in the stuffing and I suppose this would be just as good topping a plate of wide egg noodles. I’ll leave that up to you.
Stuffed Cabbage, Deconstructed
1 lb. fresh kielbasa
2 lb. cabbage, sliced ¼” thick
1 large onion, large dice
28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup red wine (pinot noir, merlot, or meritage)
1 cup long-grain rice (optional)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Roast the kielbasa. Place the fresh sausage in a glass baking dish and add enough water to bring the level half way up the side of the sausage. Roast for 1 hour, turning the sausage over after 30 minutes. Removed from the oven and place the roasted sausage on a cutting board to cool. Cut into ½” pieces.
In a large casserole dish, spread ½ cup of the tomato sauce, place a layer of cabbage slices, spread 1/3 of the diced onion, 1 tsp. salt and 3 or 4 grinds of black pepper and 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Repeat until all of the cabbage and onions are layered, top with 1 cup red wine and the remaining tomato sauce. Take the kielbasa slices and spread them over the top and gentle press them into the cabbage and onion mixture.
Cover tightly with foil and roast for 1 ½ hours. If you are serving this with rice, prepare according to package instructions.
Place ½ cup cooked rice on each plate and top with 1 cup of the cabbage and sausage. Serve with a farm white or rye bread to sop up the tomato gravy.