Historically, the origins of this dish are Eastern European, specifically Russian and Polish, which is basically the ethnic background of my family. Understand, the Unstuffed cabbage recipes evolved from the more laborious and time consuming Stuffed Cabbage recipe. Unstuffed cabbage is basically a deconstructed cabbage roll. This recipe (stuffed and unstuffed) amongst Jewish descendants is popularly made for Shabbat (the Sabbath occurring sundown every Friday), and from what I was reading, Simchat Torah (the annual celebration of finishing reading the Torah), because two cabbage rolls placed together look like the Torah scrolls. In Judaism, the foods for our holidays are always symbolic of the historical events we are celebrating or honoring.
Options: Some options to this recipe would include using ground chicken or turkey in replacement of the ground beef. If you are vegetarian, you could probably purchase the frozen tofu meatballs and simmer them in the sauce with the cabbage. Additionally, I use half brown rice and half short grain white rice for the meatballs, and cook extra rice to serve over. Last, I like using Apple Cider Vinegar for the vinegar type.
Note: I used 1.5 lbs ground beef and about 3/4 c of rice. The recipe made about 33 meatballs the size of a golf ball.
Great Auntie Ethel's Unstuffed Cabbage
1 ½ - 2 ½lbs. Ground beef (can substitute chicken, or turkey)
½ - 1 cup cooked Rice (I mix white and brown)
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste
Garlic (I like a scant Tbsp, minced)
Mix ingredients together until blended. Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball.
2 – 15 oz cans tomato sauce
2 cans water
½ cup vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup raisins (I like golden raisins)
12 gingersnaps, processed to fine crumb
½ medium sized cabbage, shredded
Prepare sauce with all ingredients but cabbage. Bring sauce to boil. While sauce is heating, prepare meatballs. Put in cabbage and meatballs into boiling sauce. Cover and simmer 2 ½ hrs. Or cover and cook in 350 degree oven for 1 ½ hours. Uncover and then cook ½ hr.