Kohlrouladen – Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls ready for the oven.

Cabbage, the food of winter. Many Central and Eastern European cultures feature cabbage all throughout the winter. It’s hardy, nutritious, and extremely versatile. Think of everything you can do with it. It stores very well, which is why so many cultures have thrived on it. You can ferment it to make sauerkraut or even kim chee. You can braise it, pickle it, stuff it, etc. The possibilities are endless. Here is an influence to the neighbors to the north and east with meat stuffed cabbage rolls. In northern Germany the cabbage rolls are typically served with a beef broth unlike the Polish and Eastern European countries that serve it in a sweet tomato sauce. We’ve adapted this to add bacon and beer. What’s not to love!

Click here to download the printable recipe in PDF here!

Meat Filling
½ white onion, diced small
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
4 anchovies, minced
½ cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon Maggi seasoning
1 teaspoon marjoram leaves
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Beer Sauce

5 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into matchstick pieces
2 cups unsalted beef stock
1 cup dark beer
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of cabbage

Cabbage Rolls with Bacon-Beer Sauce

When the cabbage is submerged in the water, pull the leaves that come off of it out and place on a plate to cool.  This will make it easier to handle when your stuffing the rolls.  Also any leftover cabbage is great chopped and sautéed with sliced onions and mixed with some Spätzle!

Start by filling a large pot with some water.  Add a generous amount of salt to it and bring it to a boil.  Next you need to core the cabbage.  Using a small paring knife, cut the bottom part of the cabbage out.  Once the water is boiling, add the whole head to the pot.  Make sure the pot isn’t too full or it will overflow.  Pull the leaves off as they cook and set aside.

Now it’s time to get the filling ready.  Use a medium sized sautee pan and add 1 tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of butter to it.  Add the onions, garlic, and anchovies and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 – 7 minutes.  When the onions become translucent, remove from the heat and let the ingredients cool.

To prepare the meat filling, use a large mixing bowl and add the ground beef, ground pork, bread crumbs, eggs, black pepper, salt, Maggi, and marjoram.  Once the onion mixture is cool, add this to the meat mixture and thoroughly mix by hand or a small mixer with the paddle attachment.

Once you have the meat mixture made you can stuff the cabbage rolls.  Lay each cabbage leaf out on a cutting board.  You should be able to get 10 – 12 large leaves.  Place about a half of a cup on each leaf and roll it up like a burrito.  Place the cabbage rolls into a casserole large enough for the rolls and the sauce.

To prepare the sauce you want to cook the bacon in a small saucepan until the fat is rendered out.  Cook the bacon on medium heat until it is slightly brown.  Drain off the bacon fat and reserve for frying potatoes or any other use.  Add the beef stock, beer, and bay leaves.  When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.  Pour this over the cabbage rolls.  Cover with plastic wrap first, then cover with aluminum foil.  Place in a preheated oven at 350º for one hour.  After one hour, remove the plastic and foil and place back in the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve the cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes, or noodles and some of the sauce from the pan.  If you like you can thicken the sauce slightly by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of water and stir it into the sauce.

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