Monday, August 31, 2015



First and foremost I have to tell you I am not a big fan of cabbage.  Nor of tomatoes.  Where I grew up, in Tulsa, there was a large Lebanese community, most of whom were in the men's haberdashery trade or in the restaurant business.  They came from their father's families and did things the way their fathers did them.  There were several popular steak houses which served cabbage rolls and delicious steaks accompanied by a wedge lettuce salad, slathered in Thousand Island dressing.  None of those things were a favorite of mine, so I didn't frequent Eddy's, Freddy's or Jamil's; the better known of the family steak houses.

I have never cared for the acrid smell of cabbage, nor the flavor.  The taste of cabbage rolls cooked in lightly seasoned tomato sauce didn't appeal to me, so I left them alone.  Until now.

I came across a recipe for cabbage rolls, with the instructions for making them, and I wondered if I could do something delicious with the basics.  There were Middle Eastern style cabbage rolls with the mix of Middle Eastern spices that are unusual to us, but different and interesting.  There are Italian style cabbage rolls made with a jar of spaghetti sauce and more exceptable to American palates.  Then I saw a recipe for Cajun Cabbage Rolls.  I love cajun food.  Since moving to south Texas I have been trying some spicy Cajun and Creole dishes which are wonderful.  While I was making this mixture I kept thinking of things that would keep it simple, and what you read here is the result.  It was delicious. The cabbage was a little crunchy still, and the addition of chicken stock kept the tomato from being an overwhelming flavor.  Yes, there is a commercial add in of dirty rice mix, which already has the seasonings and rice in it.  But it just makes things easier, and more delicious.  I hope you enjoy this.

1 head cabbage
1 lb lean ground beef
12 oz. package boudin sausage
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 package dirty rice mix (rice and seasoning), Zatarain's or other brand.
1 8 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
8 oz. chicken stock

Core the head of cabbage and steam in the microwave 10 - 15 minutes until the leaves loosen up.

Remove casing from boudin.  Mix ground beef, boudin, green onion, celery, bell pepper and dirty rice mix, using hands until well incorporated.  Pat down in the bowl into a large patty, and using a small knife divide into wedges until each is very small.

Remove cabbage leaves one at a time, slicing out the tough central core at the bottom, leaving most of the leaf intact.  Cross the split bottom, place one wedge section of meat mixture onto the leaf, and begin rolling, folding in the outside edges and ending with a secure roll at the top of the leaf.  Secure with a toothpick if necessary.

Place  cabbage rolls in a 1 1/2 - 2 qt. covered casserole creating a snug layer on the bottom, and then stacking on top.  Pour tomato sauce and diced tomatoes with juice over the top, then add chicken stock.

Cover the dish with foil and vent with a sharp knife, then cover with the lid.  Bake for 1 hour in a 350F oven.  

(Note for non-onion fans:  I don't think it would make much difference if you left it out.)