In the 1890s, large groups of Eastern European immigrants came to the Pittsburgh area to work in the city's mills. The cool thing about Pittsburgh is that each ethnic group kept it's history and traditions alive. It's something that makes me very proud to say I am from the 'Burgh! These little stuffed cabbages are made in more of a Slovak style, but many groups can claim them as their own. From Turkey's Sarma to Golubtsy in Russia, every country in between has a version of their own. We call 'em "Pigs in a Blanket." It's great food for a cold day.
1 large head of cabbage
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 16-ounce can sauerkraut
1 1/2 cups cooked long grain brown rice
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg or egg substitute
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar (or Agave Nectar)
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon salt (divided)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove core from cabbage and set into a large pot of boiling water. Gradually as the leaves become soft, remove from head of cabbage and put on a towel line baking sheet to cool. Continue to remove leaves making sure to not overcook until all of the large leaves are soft. The inner leaves can be set aside to use in other dishes.
Sauce: In a saucepan, saute garlic in oil until barely golden. Combine crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, two cloves of the minced garlic, vinegar, sugar and one half teaspoon of salt and slowly simmer while the rest of the dish is prepared.
Filling: In a large bowl, combine remaining salt, ground meat, rice, remaining garlic, parsley, onion, egg and pepper and mix well. Set aside. You can switch out the pork for a full pound of beef, or even use lamb if you wish.
Assembly: Drain and squeeze sauerkraut and line the bottom of a large baking dish (16x10), spooning a couple of ladles of the simmering sauce and mixing it into the kraut. Smooth to make a nice bed for the cabbage rolls. When leaves are cool, trim the large back spine of the leaf so that it is the same thickness as the rest of the leaf. Place about 1/4 cup of filling into the leaf and roll, placing the rolled cabbages over the top of the sauerkraut/sauce mixture. Pour over remaining sauce and cover dish with aluminum foil. Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours.
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