Grandma Belle's Stuffed Cabbage Recipe

This traditional stuffed cabbage recipe was a family favorite from my New York grandmother, Belle Schwartz. I make it with ground turkey instead of beef. It still tastes just like the dish Mom & Grandma used to make!

1 large head of cabbage
1 lb. ground turkey or beef
1.5 cups cooked rice
1 large onion, chopped
1 large can chopped tomatoes in puree
1 cup tomato juice or 1 can tomato paste
1 egg
garlic powder to taste
1 T olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 cup raisins
dash sour salt (citric acid) optional
1 T white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 T brown sugar
dash paprika, ground pepper to taste
1. Rinse head of cabbage and place in a large pot covered with water and cook over high heat. Boil for 12-15 minutes, until pliable and soft. Drain in colander, reserving liquid. Allow cabbage to cool. Carefully cut out center core at bottom and discard, taking care not to damage outer leaves. Carefully pull leaves off of head one at a time and lay out on wax paper.
2. In a bowl combine meat, rice, 2/3 of the chopped onion, garlic powder, egg and a dash of freshly ground pepper. Mix well with hands. Place a small handfull of meat mixture, about the size of an egg, into the center of each large cabbage leaf and roll over meat, tucking in the sides of the leaf to keep mixture inside. Place roll down on baking dish to hold closed. Refridgerate rolls while making sauce. Chop the unusable inner leaves of the cabbage and set aside.
3. In a large sauté pan or dutch oven, sauté remaining chopped onion in oil until soft. Add tomatoes, juice, brown sugar, bay leaf, raisins, sour salt, vinegar, paprika, ground pepper, and chopped cabbage. For more sour flavor add sour salt, vinegar or lemon juice, for more sweetness add brown sugar. Heat sauce to simmer.
4. Place cabbage rolls into pan, nestling them into the sauce carefully. Add some of the reserved cabbage cooking water until rolls are almost covered with liquid. Cover pan and simmer on lowest heat for 1 ½-2 hours. Serve with rice or boiled potatoes and crusty bread.
Makes 12 rolls, about 4 servings.

Belle & Morris Schwartz circa 1950