Category Archives: Beef

Get Your Grill Going

The Memorial Day holiday marks the official start of the outdoor entertaining season.  For our household , and I think for most folks, that means more grilling.  And, while hot dogs and hamburgers are indeed crowd-pleasers and we enjoy serving them to our guests, don’t limit yourself to the typical fare.

My husband and I plan ahead for large parties, but we often find ourselves inviting a small number of friends over at the last minute for informal dinner parties during the warm months.  It is nice to take advantage of more daylight hours and mix up our weeknight activities.  Because of that, we appreciate recipes that don’t require intense preparation or can be prepared in advance.  For that reason, I love mixing up marinades for meat and/or vegetables in the morning or night before and then leaving them to become delicious in the refrigerator.  Then, it only takes moments on the grill until dinner.

Casual entertaining can also be a chance to experiment with new flavors and new ingredients.  Take advantage of a sale at the butcher counter or the clearance bin at the farmers’ market, or pick up something that intrigues you.  I’ve become a recent fan of the flat iron steak cut of beef.  It is tender and perfect for the grill.

Grilled Chili Citrus Steak
Serves 4 to 6

about 24 oz of flat iron steak
juice of 1 large orange
juice of 2 limes
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag.  I usually drop in the citrus halves after squeezing the juice, but do what you prefer.

Seal and using your hands, distribute ingredients over steaks.

Refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours.

Heat your grill to medium high.  Place your steak(s) on the grill.  To cook your steak to medium, use these cooking times:
2 to 3 minutes per side for 1/2-inch steak
4 to 6 minutes per side for a 1-inch steak
6 t 9 minutes per side for a 1 1/2 to 2-inch steak
For medium rare steaks use just a bit less time and for well-done steaks use a bit more.

Once you remove the steak(s) from the grill, let the meat rest for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb into the steak before serving.

Time to start planning your next cookout…

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Texan Bulgogi with Bibim Bap

I started planning for round two of Project Food Blog before I even finished my entry for the first round.   I liked the idea of making a traditional family dish with the recipe coming from a friend.  I knew my friend, Virginia, could help.   She’s a terrific cook with a generous spirit.  I called her up and we brainstormed some traditional Korean dishes.  She helped me decide on bibim bap (mixed vegetables on rice) and bulgogi (marinated beef), something that her family often ate.

Now, for the shopping…I visited two Asian grocery stores within a few miles of our temporary house here in Fort Worth.  The vegetables, rice, and seasonings where easy to find, and it was fun to just wander down the aisles.  The butcher counter was a slightly different story.  
From my conversations with Virginia, I knew I was looking for very thinly sliced beef, and we both believed it would be fairly common to find.  Let me emphasize here that I am not at all squeamish, and I thought it was important in the spirit of the challenge to step outside my normal routine.  I was not deterred by the lack of labels behind the glass, the various animal body parts in plastic, or clerks who didn’t speak English.  I walked slowly up and down the counter case, all along the freezer case, and back to the counter case.  Hmmmm…I didn’t really see what I wanted to find. 
I found one pile that looked like beef, and was thinly sliced, but it looked basically like scraps left from trimming more favorable portions of the cow.  Well, what the heck, the price was only $1.49/lb.  Note to my reader – that should have been my first clue.   Using sign language and pointing, I placed my order.  The clerk reached into the pile with his bare hands and dumped it by the handful into a plastic grocery bag to weigh, then placed it in another plastic grocery bag, knotted it, and handed it over.  This probably should have been my second clue.
Once I got my packages home, I was going to prepare the marinade for the beef.  I unwrapped the meat with the intent of trimming it.  On closer inspection, I noticed that it was really discolored.  It also had a lot of fat on it.  Now, we don’t have the best knife set in our rental kitchen, but I couldn’t even cut it.  No matter what direction in relation to the grain I used, it was too tough.  Alright, enough is enough.  I threw the whopping $3 of meat in the trash and headed out to the store again. 
This time I visited a butcher I knew who could help me figure out what to do.  We put our meatheads together and decided that the best course of action was to buy fajita meat.  Yeah, that’s right.  I bought Texas fajita meat to make Korean bulgogi.  Hear me out…fajita meat is sirloin made for marinade and thin slicing.  Plus, it isn’t too expensive.  Meat crisis over, I went home to make my marinade.


For 1 lb of meat, very thinly sliced
1 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp garlic powder
¼ cup sesame oil
1 bunch spring onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
dash of rice vinegar
Place all ingredients and meat in a gallon sized ziploc bag.  

Using your hands, distribute the marinade around and over the beef.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  The meat can then be stir fried, broiled, or grilled.  You may want to chop it into bite-size pieces, as I did.

Bibim Bap
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups medium-grain Korean (or Japanese) rice
1 large cucumber, sliced into thin strips
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1 1/2 cups spinach, trim stems
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 lb meat, optional
Fried egg as a topping, optional
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds
For making the right rice, which is really important, here’s what Virginia says to do.  Rinse the rice to get rid of excess starch.  Then put enough water in it so that when you lay your hand flat on the surface of the rice, the water goes up to your big knuckle on your fingers.  She uses a rice cooker, but if you want to do on stove, just bring it to a boil and then immediately cover, turn heat down to low, and then let that “steam” for 20 minutes.  Do not open lid during the 20 minutes.  I used 1½ cups of dry rice and 2 cups of water.  I brought it to a boil, then covered and turned down the heat to low and cooked for 20 minutes.
I cooked all vegetables separately and kept them separate until serving.
Soak the cucumber in saltwater for about 20 minutes, then drain.
Place the bean sprouts in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, and drain. 
Cook the spinach in boiling water for no more than 3 minutes and drain very well.  I squeezed it with my hands to remove excess water.  I seasoned each with a drizzle of sesame oil, a dash of salt, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Sauté carrots in a bit of sesame oil and sprinkle with salt.

Spoon cooked rice in large bowl or platter and arrange vegetables on top.
If you like, the bulgogi and egg can be placed in the center.
This was delicious, and we ate until we were almost sick.  We attempted authenticity by eating with chopsticks, but my husband reverted to using a fork because he couldn’t shovel it into his mouth fast enough.  Thanks for the recipes, Virginia!


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Meaty Gratitude

As an extra special thank you, our friends Dave and Wendy bought us some steaks from Lobel’s of New York.  Wow.  What a great gift.  I tore open the box and was thrilled by some of the best-looking steaks I had ever seen.  I have heard good things about this butcher shop and I couldn’t wait to try it for myself.

Lobel’s  specializes in USDA prime, dry aged beef.  When beef is dry aged, the moisture evaporates from the muscle concentrating the beefy flavor and taste.  It also becomes more tender as the natural enzymes in the beef break down the fibrous, connective tissue in the muscle.  Needless to say, this is an expensive process, since the beef must be stored for weeks at or near freezing temperatures.  This adds to the cost of the meat, and is why you only see it offered at steak restaurants and high-end butcher shops nowadays.

I decided to prepare two tenderloin steaks for our dinner that night.  About half an hour before I was ready to grill, I took the steaks out of the refrigerator and removed them from their packaging.  With such a fine cut of meat, it needs seasoning only from kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Then I let the steaks sit out to bring them to room temperature.  This will help ensure the meat cooks evenly and can help reduce the cooking time.

I fired up the grill to high.  I knew it was ready when I couldn’t hold my hand above the grate for more than about 5 seconds.  Using tongs, I placed the steaks on the grate to sear.  This will take 2 to 4 minutes for each side – depending on how thick your steak is, how hot you’ve made your grill, and how done you want it.  You can turn (not flip) your steak halfway through each side to give it fancy grill marks, if you want.

If you don’t like your steak rare, you may want to cook it a bit longer on indirect heat after the sear.  Just lift it with the tongs, away from the flame.  We like our steaks rare, so ours were ready to go much faster.

To check for doneness, I don’t like to pierce of cut the beef, I just use my clean finger and press down on the steak.  If it is rare, my finger will make an indention and it will stay in place.  If it is medium, the steak will give, but the indention will not remain.  A well done steak will feel firm.

After removing the steaks from the grill, let them rest for 3 or 4 minutes to redistribute the juices within the meat.

They were delicious and meltingly tender.  Some of the best meat I’ve ever had.  Seriously.  We have some pretty great friends.


Filed under Beef, Tips & Tricks

Flat Out Good

A relative newcomer at the butcher’s, the flat iron cut has become one of the best-selling steaks in both grocery markets and restaurants.  It has been described as having the tenderness of a tenderloin and the taste of a sirloin.  The flat iron steak comes from the blade roast of the beef shoulder or chuck.  There is a thick piece of connective tissue that runs directly through the center of it and therefore it had never been marketed as a steak.  But once that connective tissue was removed, meat science students realized there was a very tender steak with a great beefy taste as though it were near ribs.

What makes it even more popular is the price.  Because it is removed from the chuck, just about the cheapest area of beef, flat iron steaks are very affordable.  The trimmed top blade or flat iron (supposedly named because it looks like an old-fashioned metal flat iron) is uniform in thickness and rectangular in shape.

It can be cooked as you’d cook any other premium steak.  As any non-loin steak, the flat iron benefits from marinating because it absorbs flavors beautifully, and is best if you don’t cook it beyond medium.  Its strong, deep, rich beef flavor makes it perfect not only on its own, but also as an ingredient for many dishes.  Because it is similar to flat steaks, you could use it in recipes calling for skirt or flank steak.

I elected to marinate and grill our steak.  Here’s what I did…

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Chili, Garlic, and Lime
Serves 2

1 to 1 1/2 lb flat iron steak
juice of 2 limes
4 tsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp coarse ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag.

Once it is sealed, use your hands to thoroughly distribute the marinade over the meat.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour and no more than 4 hours.

Heat your grill to medium high.  Place your steak on the grill.  Use these cooking times to cook your steak to medium: 2 to 3 minutes per side for a 1/2-inch thick steak, 4 to 6 minutes per side for a 1-inch thick steak, and 6 to 9 minutes for a 1 1/2 to 2-inch thick steak.

Once you take the steak off the grill, let the meat rest for 2 or 3 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb into the steak before serving.  I was so eager to eat it after letting it rest that I forgot to take a picture!

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The Day the Brisket Came to Stay

Readers of this blog may recall that my husband and I used a hard suitcase to bring back barbeque beef brisket from our last trip to Texas.  Well, no more, my friends!

As an early birthday present, my husband gave me a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and we used it this weekend to smoke an incredibly delicious beef brisket.  Of course, the lack of a smoker was not the only reason we smuggled Texas style barbeque in a meatcase.  We also had not yet found a decent supply of large briskets at a reasonable price.  After some diligent research, my husband found a local supplier and MeatFest 2 was born.  We invited some friends over to try our first homemade smoked brisket.

We started the fire at 6 am on Saturday morning in preparation for an almost 10 hour smoke.  A liberal sprinkling on both sides of kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper, and garlic powder was all the meat required.

It was placed on the grill of the smoker, fat side up, covered, and left alone with the smoke to work its flavorful magic.

Once the meat was done, it was so tender it was hard to remove from the grill.  The smell was so wonderful.  Words cannot do it justice.

I immediately regretted inviting others to share it.  I wanted the brisket all to myself.

As you can imagine, there were no leftovers at all.  Nary a crumble of beef was left on the platter after our feast…

I’m almost sad that there is no brisket left.  I can’t wait to smoke another just for the two of us…We have ambitious plans for future smoked briskets.

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LeBron Fire

In a time of unsettled loyalties and disappointments, one desires the known, the solid, the dependable.  One desires firecrackers.

I know I should not be surprised by the selfish and narcissistic behavior of someone who refers to himself as King James, but yet I was.  The way in which LeBron James announced that he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers was just unbelievable to me.  He didn’t thank the fans, he didn’t seem to realize the hurt he was causing.  He just spoke of himself in the third person and made it clear he didn’t want the pressure of being a team leader.

I have only recently become a Cavaliers fan and was upset, but my husband and his family and friends in Cleveland felt completely betrayed and were understandably angry.  We decided that something cathartic must be done for them to find relief and satisfaction.  The solution: a bonfire of LeBron James paraphernalia.

As our idea took shape, though, it became so much more.  Oh, so much more…We turned “hey, let’s throw some LeBron jerseys into our outdoor firepit and drink beer as we watch them burn” into…”Let’s commit LeBenedict Arnold to a firing squad of Roman candles and other incendiary devices while we eat grilled London Broil and homemade ice cream and drink beer.”  Yeah, baby…

We started by aiming the Roman candles at his jersey until it was in smoldering shreds…

Then, we moved to pure flame without the flash…

Still had some emotion to express, though…
As you might imagine this became quite the neighborhood spectacle.  If I thought folks were interested in seeing my husband get charged by a small brown poodle…I mean, they were standing in the alley, lining up in their back yards, and leaning out upper floor windows to watch the crazy white folk set fire to LeBron stuff.  Of course, the Roman candles and camera flashes might have had something to do with it…

To get the bitter taste out of our mouths, my husband marinated and grilled a london broil.

Grilled London Broil
Serves 8

4 lb london broil beef
1 white onion, sliced
1/2 cup A1 sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
salt and pepper, to taste

Between 6 and 24 hours before dinner, place beef in a (non-reactive) glass dish and cover with sliced onion.

Combine A1 sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup.  Pour over top of beef and onions.

Cover and refrigerate between 6 and 24 hours.

Grill over medium heat for about 15 minutes for medium rare meat.

Let sit for another 15 minutes, then slice and serve with a side of revenge.

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The Braise on the Street

Those of who know my husband and I know that we don’t live in the best neighborhood here in Washington, DC…We are always on the look-out for illegal behavior and we make it clear to our neighbors that we are watching out for things.  We attract a lot of attention for this attitude and because we have two big dogs.  And, probably because we are the only white folks for several blocks.

Night before last, though, really got the neighbors talking.  My husband was walking our dog Charley when he was charged by the neighbors little poodle.   He brought Charley back inside and led the little dog back home.  Trying again to walk Charley, the poodle escaped once more to charge them.  Hearing the barking again, I walked outside to escort the poodle back home and talk to his owner.  Then, we noticed that her car’s trunk was open and her front door was ajar.  Concerned, I took Charley’s leash and my husband walked up to the neighbor’s door.  He knocked and called her name while fending off bites from her two small dogs who were barking ferociously.  At this point, neighbors on all sides have stepped into their yards to watch the commotion and see what those crazy white folk were up to again.  The poodle’s owner finally answers the door, and when she and her boyfriend stepped onto the porch to speak to my husband it was clear they were on something and in fact had been simmering in something for quite some time.

I found this ironic since for dinner I had served beef that had been braising in beer for hours.  What is braising you ask?  Braising is a cooking technique in which meat is seared or browned in a bit of fat and then simmered in liquid at a low temperature in a covered pot.  It works great with tough cuts of meat by breaking down the tough connective tissue in meat.  It has an effect similar to barbeque, or apparently the drug our neighbors were on, which seemed to break down the fibers in their brains and impact their ability to think or speak clearly.  Braising is a very simple technique that results in tender meat with a delicious sauce or gravy.  The only perceived drawback is you may have to plan for several hours of cooking, but it is non-active cooking – you just leave it in the oven or on the stovetop and let it go.

For those of you interested in the resolution of my story…it seems as though the neighbors were just high and being careless with their car and dogs.  They mumbled a few words of thanks, walked out to their car to lock it up, and brought the dogs inside.  The others on the street stared at us for a bit longer, and then shuffled back to their porches or went back to their game of street ball.  Nothing more to see here, people.  Just another beautiful day in the neighborhood…

Beef and Onions Braised in Beer

3 medium white onions
1 (4 lb) boneless beef chuck roast
2 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
2 bay leaves
3 (12-oz) bottles or cans of lager-style beer, such as Miller High Life (keeping it classy, folks)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Slice onions lengthwise into long strips.  You can slice it in half lengthways and then slice thinner slices lengthwise again.

Pat beef dry with a paper towel to allow the seasonings to stick better and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  For this recipe, I prefer kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper.  Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil in a wide (5 to 6-qt) heavy pot over medium-high heat until it is shimmery.

Brown the beef on all sides then remove and transfer to a plate.  It took me about 12 minutes.

Add the sliced onions to the pot with the remaining 1 Tbsp of canola oil and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom and stirring until onions are well browned.  While the onions are cooking, turn your oven to 350 degrees F.

When onions are done, add the beer and garlic and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits.  This is known as deglazing the pan.  You can vary the type of beer used and the amount of garlic, of course.

Add beef to pot and return to boil.

Then, turn off the burner and cover the pot.  I didn’t have a lid to match my hand-me-down pot, so I just covered it loosely with foil.  That worked just fine.

Place it in oven to braise until meat is very tender when pierced in several places with fork.  My roast was in the oven for about 4 hours.

If you want to serve it in slices, transfer the beef to a cutting board and let it stand or rest for about 20 minutes.  Place the slices on a plate and drizzle with the sauce.  I decided to shred it with two forks in the  sauce in the pot and served the saucy meat over rice.  Also, this roast was very lean, so there wasn’t much fat in the sauce.  If you have a fattier cut of beef, you may need to remove the meat first and skim the fat from the sauce before serving.

NOTE: You aren’t going to screw up the meat if you skip the step of patting it dry first.  I do it because I find the seasoning stick to it better.  But, also when I put it in a hot oiled pan, it doesn’t splatter with the combination of water and oil.  Some folks believe it creates a better sear or browning on the meat when it is dry, but I haven’t conducted any experiments on this myself.

I’d like to hear the opinions of my readers on this…

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Suitcase Meat

On our trip to Texas in April, my husband and I decided to bring back some of the foodstuffs that we can’t get here in DC.  The most important item for us was barbeque beef brisket.  Not only can we not get large beef briskets at good prices, but we also don’t have a smoker.  We had a craving as we had not had good barbeque since our wedding in October, and our friends were clamoring for us to bring some barbeque back.

So, on the first day of our trip, we purchased a 12 pound beef brisket at HEB.  My dad seasoned it and smoked it for several hours over mesquite wood.

Then, we wrapped the cooked brisket carefully and placed it in the freezer it for the remainder of our trip.  The next step was insuring safe passage and TSA allowance.  After several hours of research and a call to the airline, we decided that we would wrap the brisket in plastic, pad it with styrofoam, and pack it in a hard-sided suitcase.  With a trip to Goodwill, we scored a large American Tourister suitcase for 9 bucks.

We made sure it was frozen solid before packing and well insulated and padded for travel.  I was a nervous wreck for the entire trip home.  We decided to check the hard-sided meat suitcase.  I was sure that TSA was going to have a problem with this large mass of aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and our brisket was going to be confiscated.  We didn’t get called back from the gate, so once we boarded the plane I focused my anxiety on the thoughts that the meat suitcase wasn’t going to make the connecting flight and our plans for a barbeque feast would be crushed.

Well, I’m thrilled to report that the brisket made it safe and sound.  With all the insulation, it stayed frozen through our extended trip to our great relief.  We popped it in our freezer and began planning the special feast in which we would share the brisket with our friends.

We hosted a small dinner for a few friends this weekend to serve the special suitcase meat.  I’d never frozen barbeque before, so I wasn’t quite sure how to reheat it.  We knew we would use the oven to warm it, but we wanted to be careful not to dry out the meat.  It was fully cooked, we just wanted it warm for serving.  After a bit of debate, we landed on a strategy.

We defrosted the large brisket for two days in the refrigerator.  About two hours before we wanted to eat, we unwrapped the brisket and put in a roasting pan.

It smelled absolutely wonderful with spice and mesquite smoke, and I had dogs pacing at my feet as I unwrapped it.  I combined two cups of beef broth with some of the secret spices I would have put on a brisket to barbeque, and poured it over the meat and let it pool in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Then, I covered it with foil, making sure that it was tightly covering the ends so that they would not dry out too much.  I put it in a 225 degree F oven for almost two hours.  When it was warm enough for us, my husband carved the meat and my brother started grabbing before I could take a picture.  They didn’t give me a chance to take a composed picture, but I think it looks darn good.  And, it was very tasty. 



Filed under Barbecue, Beef

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Comfort in Food

My gorgeous friend Kristina is a bit under the weather this week, so my husband and I decided to make some food for her and her husband.  We just wanted them to have a hassle-free evening with something tasty and easy in the refrigerator waiting for them.  The most comforting choice?  A casserole with macaroni, tomatoes, ground beef, and lots of gooey cheese.

It was very easy and we made it up as we went along.  We made enough to not only give them a casserole, but keep one for ourselves as well.  And, I was very grateful that was the case when we decided to have some folks over to watch the Cavaliers basketball game.  It made for a very easy dinner for our guests.  We just popped that casserole in the oven, chopped a few veggies for a salad, slathered some garlic butter on a baguette, and whipped up some brownies.

And, oh, did we need some comfort in our house.  Needless to say, the game did not go as we had hoped, but dinner was just what we wanted.

Comforting Casserole
1 Tbsp each, canola oil and olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (adjust to suit your taste)
2 1lbs ground beef (you could substitute turkey, if you prefer)
24 oz can of whole tomatoes (you could replace with diced, if you prefer)
15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb (1 box) of macaroni (you could replace with another compact pasta)
3/4 cup cheddar, shredded
3/4 cup mozzarella, shredded

Heat the mixture of canola and olive oils in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until no longer opaque.  Add the garlic and in less than a minute so the garlic doesn’t burn, add the meat to the skillet.  Slightly brown the meat and break it up into crumbles.

Add the whole tomatoes, breaking them slightly, juice and all.  Add the tomato sauce and spices.

Stir and turn down heat.  Let it simmer until it thickens, it took about half an hour to get to the consistency we prefer.

Meanwhile, follow the directions on the box of pasta and boil until preferred consistency.  Drain the noodles and place in the bottom of a casserole dish.  We had enough pasta for two casseroles – a 9 x 13 and a 8 x 8.  Pour or ladle the meat sauce on top of the pasta.

Then top with the mixture of cheese.

You can bake it right away in a 400 degree F oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese looks a little brown and bubbly.  Or, you can refrigerate for no more than 3 days (or freeze for no more than a week) while covered.  If you want to freeze it, I suggest you don’t add the cheese until you are ready to bake.

VARIATIONS: This would also be good with various vegetables (think bell pepper or zucchini), different cheeses, other spices, or other flavorings like mushrooms.  Experiment with ingredients you or your lucky recipient will enjoy.

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The Joy of My Husband Cooking

Last night my husband made stuffed cabbage for me and our friends, Dave and Wendy.  He likes to pretend that he isn’t a good cook or doesn’t really enjoy cooking, but he is totally bluffing – he just isn’t as obsessed with it as I am.  My husband has some natural talent in the kitchen, and we enjoy working on dinner together.   Last night, however, I just provided the company and he did all the work.

You will find many variations of this comfort food, as every family with Eastern European roots has their own recipe.  My husband didn’t follow a specific recipe, he just tried to remember what his mother did and made some changes based on his own taste.  He did a great job.  The rolls were full of flavor and delicious.  I hope you are inspired to change the recipe based on your tastes, too.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Makes about 18 rolls

1 head of cabbage
1 lb of ground beef
1 lb of ground pork
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup uncooked rice
3/4 cup water
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
15 oz can tomato sauce

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove core from cabbage.  Place whole head in a large bot of boiling water.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.  Then, simmer until the cabbage is soft enough to pull off individual leaves.  The leaves need to be pliable enough to wrap around the filling, but not so mushy that they fall apart.  The timing can vary, so pay attention.

Once the cabbage is the right consistency, remove from the water and rinse in cool water.  You may want to use a colander to help contain the leaves.  Choose 18 of the largest leaves to use for the rolls.  You can coarsely chop the remaining cabbage and put it in the bottom of your baking dish.  For 18 rolls, we used two glass baking dishes – one 9 x 13 and one 9 x 9.

Now for the meat filling…In a large bowl, mix the beef, pork, onion, garlic, rice, water, and spices.  Mix it with your hands in order to blend everything evenly, but not make the meat to tough.

Lay out each cabbage leaf and place 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the meat filling in the center.  The amount will depend on the size of the leaves and how fat you want the rolls, or as my husband puts it “your desired meat to cabbage ratio.”  Roll away from you one rotation, then flip up each side (it will look a bit like an envelope), then continue rolling away from you to fully encase the filling and create a neat roll.

Place each roll, seam down, in your baking dishes.  Once all rolls are in place, evenly pour tomato sauce over each dish.

Place in oven and bake for about an hour and ten minutes.  Serve with the sauce and cabbage ladled on top.

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