Stuffed Cabbage Rolls; nothing Polish about them.

Stuffed cabbage might sound familiar to a lot of you, but it is probably the Polish dish with the tomato sauce that you have had before.  The stuffed cabbage dish I am going to introduce to you is strictly Levantine, from the East Mediterranean.  When you taste those rolls you will never go Polish again! It is actually one of my favorite dishes and it is not very difficult to prepare.  My grandmother who makes the best cabbage rolls always said that the secret to making delicious rolls is in the kind of meat you use, the allspice and making sure the bottom layer sticks to the pot! The latter might sound odd, but the burnt cabbage leaves at the bottom of the pot give the rest an amazing flavor. 

I still remember trying to make this dish back in the day.  My first two attempts were a huge failure.  The first time I boiled the cabbage for too long, therefore I could not make the rolls as they were falling apart in my hands.  The second attempt, I used too lean of a meat and they turned out very dry.  I had not known about grandma’s secret back then.  I have made this dish a few times before, and the last three or four times I can say with confidence that they were as delicious as Grandma’s! Here is how I made them:


- 2 large whole cabbages
- 3 cups of jasmine rice
- 1 pound of ground beef (80/20)
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 10 whole cloves of garlic not peeled
- A few chicken wings with skin (for added flavor, this is optional)
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp allspice

Cut out the root from both cabbages and go in about an inch deep.  This is done so when you boil the cabbage the water would cook the inside as well.  Boil water with salt in a large pot.  As soon as the water boils, drop the cabbages inside and boil for only 5 minutes.  Make sure you don’t overcook the cabbage as you will not be able to stuff them with rice and create the rolls. Remove them when semi-cooked and wash with cold water then set them aside.  In a separate container wash the rice and drain.  Then mix the rice, ground beef, 3 cloves of minced garlic, black pepper, salt and allspice.  You have to use your hands in mixing because you have to make sure the rice is equally distributed inside the meat mixture.  After your mixture is ready, separate the cabbage leaves so you can start stuffing/rolling them.  To stuff, place a leaf flat with the inside facing you.  Depending on the size of the leaf, place the rice/meat mixture in a line half an inch short from the ends of the leaf and exactly in the middle.  Roll the leaf and make sure the roll is at least half an inch thick, otherwise you will have to add more of the mixture. I've shared a video that I made to help you out.  Please keep in mind that I don't stuff and roll the conventional way but rather my way! I hope grandma doesn't ever see this one!

In the bottom of the pot, place the chicken wings; add a little salt and pepper to them then start piling the rolled leaves on top.  Place an unpeeled clove of garlic here and there, just between the rolls.  When you are done, add between 7 and 8 cups of water and allow to cook on medium heat for around an hour with the pot closed.  Make sure the water is dried before you remove the leaves.  Taste one from the top layer, if it is not cooked, then add a little more water and allow to cook longer.  I know there are many steps, but it is a lot easier than it looks.  Before serving, squeeze a few lemons over them and enjoy!       


  1. In a crock pot ha? You know what, I need to start using the crock pot more. I just never grew up using it but I'm sure it is the best way to fuse the every ingredient in a dish, you know just letting it sit there for hours simmering on low heat!

    I do not have a recipe for almond bars. And thank you for liking the site :)


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