Cooktop Cove: How to make slow cooker cabbage rolls
Cabbage rolls are a dish that seems made for the slow cooker. Even in the oven, they take a long time to cook, and there's really no way around first browning the beef, cooking the rice, and actually rolling it all up in tight cabbage bundles. But cooking them in a slow cooker brings a few benefits over the oven method.
One of my favorite things about popping cabbage rolls in the slow cooker is that they're ready as soon as I get home. No waiting around for nearly two hours while they cook. The other thing that I really love about slow cooking them is that the cabbage on the bottom of the insert gets a bit crispy and charred. I've done these rolls in the oven several times and have never once achieved that texture. It's one of the reasons this remains one of my favorite ways to do cabbage rolls!
Slow cooker cabbage rolls
1 head green cabbage
1 tablespoon (15 ml) salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 small onion, small diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound (450 g) ground beef
1/2 pound (225 g) ground pork
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
¾ cup (175 ml) cooked rice
1 cup (250) beef broth
1 14.5-ounce (425 ml) can pureed tomatoes
1. Fill a large stock pot with water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a rapid boil.
2. Using a paring knife, cut the core out of the cabbage while leaving the cabbage leaves intact.
When water is boiling, gently drop in the entire head of cabbage. Cover the pot with a lid and boil the cabbage for about 7 minutes.
3. Using two large spoons, remove cabbage from the water and place in a colander. Keep the water at a boil.
4. Gently remove outer leaves from the head of cabbage as soon as they're cool enough to handle. When leaves become harder to remove, return the whole head of cabbage back to the water to continue boiling. Repeat until you have 14 to 18 nice cabbage leaves. Set the rest of the cabbage aside; you'll need it later.
5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and ground pork, breaking it up as you add it to the pan. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes, until the meat is browned. Add rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, stirring to mix.
6. Place cooked meat mixture in a large bowl until cool enough to handle.
Add cooked rice to the bowl and mix to thoroughly incorporate with meat mixture.
7. Chop up some of the remaining cabbage into 1/4-inch strips so that you have about 3 cups of shredded cabbage. Lay this in the bottom of an 8-quart slow cooker. Pour in the beef broth.
8. One at a time, lay a cabbage leaf on a plate. Take about 2 to 4 tablespoons of the filling (depending on size of cabbage leaf) and place in the center of the leaf. Fold the cabbage leaf over the filling, and then pull to tighten. Fold in the sides of the leaf over both the filling and the tucked end, and tightly roll the rest of the cabbage.
When cabbage roll is made, lay it on top of the shredded cabbage in the slow cooker. Repeat with remaining cabbage rolls and filling.
9. Pour the pureed tomatoes over each cabbage roll so all are covered.
Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours. Serve hot!
Pro tip: After taking the cabbage rolls out of the slow cooker, scoop out the shredded cabbage and eat as a side, or freeze to eat later. It makes a really nice braised cabbage dish!
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