It’s German, it’s Jewish, it’s Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with White Wine Sauce from the German Jewish Cookbook!
I swear I’ll be back with one of my own recipes soon, but there are so many good cookbooks out there I want to share with y’all!
You may remember I went to Berlin last year for Nosh Berlin to talk about Jewish food, so I was intrigued to learn about The German-Jewish Cookbook by Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman. What are the nuances of Germany-Jewish cooking versus general Ashkenazi cooking? I brought my own twist of Jewish food to Berlin (Picked Beet Everything Bagel Deviled Eggs anyone?), but what about the unique cuisine of the formerly strong Jewish population in Germany?
The mother-daughter author team attempt to preserve recipes that are all but extinct. They are artists and home cooks, not chefs, but researched cookbooks and family recipes for years to put together this tome, with personal anecdotes and historical support. Gabrielle was just an infant when she escaped Nazi Germany to Washington Heights in NYC with her family, and though initially reluctant to write the book, realized that if they didn’t, the German-Jewish recipes may be gone forever.
When I went to Yad Vashem on my recent trip to Israel, something that struck me was the room where they showed life before the Holocaust. Jews were happy, they fit in. Most did not keep kosher and were not super observant as many think, they were just living their lives as Jews in Germany their way. You often learn about the horrific details of the Holocaust, but not about life before. Something I love about this cookbook, is how it preserves a joyful part of Jewish German life that was almost gone- some recipes they captured from survivors in their 90’s who would have taken these recipes with them. The German-Jewish Cookbook is a history book meets memoir through the lens of food (my favorite lens).
Anyhoo, this book has tons of recipes I want to make, but the cover star caught my attention. I’m a big fan of stuffed cabbage and have even made it into a stuffed cabbage soup! So when I saw the recipe for Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with White Wine Sauce instead of the common red tomato sauce, I knew what I was making first. Wine in a recipe = an excuse to open a bottle of wine = I’m all in.
The meat filling is mixed with bread instead of rice for a lighter texture. Braised in a light white wine lemon sauce.
Roll it up.
On my list to make next? Mustard Pickles, Potato Dumplings, Berches (a German version of challah), Plum Cake and Celery Root and Leek Soup. Note that there are few photos, so you’ll have to use your imagination on what some recipes will look like.
The hardest part of this recipe is separating the pieces of cabbage (aka it’s pretty easy), but a quick dunk of the cabbage in boiling water fixes that.
Some bright carrots add color and sweetness that contrast with the tart wine sauce. L’chaim!
- 1 medium-large head green cabbage
- 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
- 1 medium-size onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups broth (beef, chicken or vegetable, I used chicken)
- ½ cup white wine (I used vino blanco)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin rounds (around ⅛ inch)
- 1 bay leaf
- Large handful of fresh parsley, flat
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground white or black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 ounces stale bread rolls (bulkie, Kaiser, or Vienna)
- 1 pound ground beef, veal, or turkey or a combination (I used beef)
- 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Up to 1 cup additional broth as needed
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Additional seasonings as needed
- Blanching the cabbage leaves:
- Bring 2 to 3 quarters of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Trim the bottom of the core off the cabbage. Carefully remove the leaves from the cabbage, being sure to keep each leaf whole. If you have difficulty pulling the leaves off, make a cut around the bottom of the core with a sharp paring knife, releasing a layer of leaves. If it's still difficult, plunge the whole head unto the pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove the head to a shallow bowl with a slotted spoon and gently remove the leaves as they come loose. You may have to repeat this procedure. Continue making cuts as needed on each layer.
- Remove at leaves 12, and up to 18, leaves, Put 4 cabbage leaves at a time into the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes until softened. Gently remove from the water with tongs and place in a colander to drain. Continue until all the leaves have been blanched. Lay out the leaves in a single later on a clean kitchen towel to drain completely.
- Making the broth:
- Heat the oil in a large, oven-safe, heavy-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven. Add the sliced onion and cook over medium-low heat until transparent (do not let the onion brown), stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, wine, carrot, bay leaf, parsley, kosher salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to medium-high, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Making the stuffing:
- Put the bread rolls in a colander set in the sink. Moisten them with lukewarm water until they are soggy, then squeeze them to remove as much excess water as you can. Tear them into 1-inch pieces.
- Put the chopped meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped onion, torn bread, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and beaten egg. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are incorporated- this is best done with clean hands!
- Baking the stuffed cabbage:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put a drained cabbage leaf on a work surface. I trimmed the spine a little to remove some of the thick, tough piece. This is optional. Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture in the hollow of the leaf at the stem end, about 1-inch from the bottom, then fold the left and right sides of the leaf over the filling. Fold the top of the leaf over the filling and tuck it under the stem end to make a snug, oval-shaped package. (Note: Your cabbage leaves will probably vary in size, in which case you should adjust the amount of filling you use- a little less or more than tablespoon, to suit the size of each leaf. Most of mine I used more.)
- Put the finished roll, stem side down, in the pot with the broth. Continue filling and wrapping, adding each roll to the pot, until you have used all the cabbage leaves, or until you have used all the meat mixture. They should all fit in the pot in one layer (if you have one or two that don't fit, it is okay to set them on top of the first layer). Cover the pot and bake for 1 hour.
- Making the sauce:
- Remove the cabbage rolls from the pot and put them in a serving dish. Measure the liquid remaining in the pot. If it has reduced to less than 1½ cups, add more broth to equal that amount. Pour the broth back into the pot and add the lemon juice. Put a ladleful of the broth into a small bowl, add the cornstarch, and stir to dissolve. Place the pot over medium heat. Pour the cornstarch mixture back into the large pot, stirring constantly. Simmer until the cornstarch turns clear and the sauce has thickened. Tatse for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or nutmeg if needed. Pout the sauce into a gravy boat or bowl.
- Serve the cabbage rolls warm, with the sauce served on the side.