Saturday, April 23, 2011


John and Mary Suhar

This recipe comes to me from my mother, Cathleen Marrinan, and her mother, Pauline Sullivan.  My grandma's parents, John and Mary Suhar, were immigrants from Eastern Europe, somewhere around the historically flexible borders of former Czechslovakia and Hungary.  Once in the US, they settled in Pennsylvania where my great grandfather worked as a coal miner.  

Stuffed Cabbage was always a favorite of mine when I was growing up.  Since it's a slow cooking dish, I'd come home from school to the wonderfully tangy aroma in the house.   My mother reports feeling the same way when she would come home to find her mother cooking this dish for dinner.   A few differences:  my mother only used ground beef, while my grandmother used half ground beef and half ground pork.  My mom also took advantage of the availability of instant rice.  Of course, regular rice works perfectly well.  Just make sure the rice isn't fully cooked when you stuff the cabbage leaves.

Grandma Sullivan

"Stuffed Cabbage
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef  [and or ground pork]
1 large onion [white, half chopped, half sliced thin]
1 clove garlic - crushed
1 large head of cabbage
2 8oz cans of Sauerkraut
2 8oz cans of tomato sauce
1 package of Success rice [or regular rice slightly undercooked.]
[Add prepared horseradish, hot sauce, salt and pepper, to taste]

In large pot boil head of cabbage until leaves fall off - pull apart gently.  Drain and cool a bit.
Brown beef with 1/2 onion chopped and garlic.
Boil rice for about 7 minutes instead of 10.
Fill cabbage leaves with mixture of rice and beef.
In large pot - layer stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, sauerkraut and other half of onion sliced.  Add water to cover cabbage [reduce heat ] and cook for 2 to 3 hours."

From my mother. My notes scribbled in red.

I tried a vegetarian version for my husband, using Ives' Veggie Ground Round, which I pre-cooked in a pan with a few tablespoons of butter to give it some fat content.   It only required one pound of veggie crumbles as opposed to the one and a half pounds of real meat.  The fat in the real meat cooks down and is drained off, reducing it's pre-cooked weight.  Even with the addition of butter, the veggie version didn't have the texture to hold together quite as well.  However, as most of the flavor comes from the tomato and sauerkraut, the taste was still comparable.

My Aunt Stephanie, of Ukranian heritage, makes another variation of Stuffed Cabbage which is equally fantastic.   
To my great-grandparents, this dish would have probably been known as 
, whereas Stephanie's family may have called it 
.   Like the pancake, it seems most cultures have their own interpretation of stuffed cabbage.

Source: Cathleen Marrinan via  Pauline Sullivan [nee Suhar]
Location:  Pennsylvania/New York
Date: 1950s-1960s

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