I recently came across a page from an old cooking magazine or insert into a newspaper. The page was amongst other food pages given to me and was yellowed with age.
This page featured “Casseroles from Other Countries,” but most were dishes I knew, like lasagna, stuffed cabbage and arroz con pollo, which is simply rice with chicken. The stuffed cabagge – or pigs in the blanket as I know them – was listed as being a Middle European favorite. I’m not sure if the dish I grew up with was one my grandmother or great-grandmother made or not. Great-grandma was from Germany, having come to the United States alone when she was just 19.
Of course, at that time Germany encompassed much more land that it does today. Her birth certificate puts her not in Germany but in Poland. However, at least until she was 19 or older, there had been no Poland. It was all considered Germany. So Middle European stood out for me when I saw it associated with the recipe.
The other item that caught my eye in this older recipe is that it called for either a half cup of raw or processed white rice. I had to Google what the difference was because at first I was mistakenly thinking one was uncooked or raw and the other was cooked rice. But it has nothing to do with one being cooked and one being dry or uncooked. Instead it’s all about the processing of the rice before it ever gets to the shelves at the local grocery store. Raw is less processed or what we would call brown rice, whereas the processed white rice has a longer process that it goes through to become white. Once I read about it I realized that the raw is like raw sugar which is actually brown in color, not the white that many of us think of if someone mentions granulated sugar.
The recipe in its discription of rice was only saying you can use brown or white rice for the dish.
Two other surprise were the listing of 2 lemons in the ingredients and the number of servings. I don’t remember ever using lemons in pigs in the blanket. I’m not sure if the lemony taste would fit in or if the acidicness of the lemon would highlight the other flavors. As for the servings, the recipe lists three. However, the recipe calls for 12 large cabbage leaves. I cannot imagine eating four large stuffed cabbage leaves. But maybe this dish from an old-world dinner was supposed to be extra filling. Along side the recipe was a menu for an old-world family dinner. It included the stuffed cabbage, parsley potatoes, pumpernickel bread, fruit compote and hot tea in a glass. Why it specified in a glass it doesn’t say. Today we think of hot tea in a cup or a mug, not a glass. So the reason for that specification escapes me.
The recipe is shared below.
Stuffed Cabbage (Middle Eastern favorite)
Large head of cabbage
1 lb. ground chuck
1/2 cup raw regular or processed white rice
1 grated small onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 sliced large onion
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
2 No. 2 1/2 cans tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 to 1 cup brown sugar
Remove 12 large leaves from cabbage. Shave off thick part of each leaf. Pour on boiling water to make leaves easy to roll. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine meat with rice, onion, eggs, salt and pepper. Place mound of meat mixture in the cup part of each leaf. Loosely fold over sides of each leaf; roll up. In bottom of Dutch oven, place few of remaining leaves. Arrange layers of rolled leaves with seam side down, and sliced onion in Dutch oven. Pour on sauce, tomatoes, juice of lemons. Add one teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil on top of range. Sprinkle with sugar to taste. Bake, covered, one hour. Uncover; bake two hours.