Freda Lederer's Passover Stuffed Cabbage


From Recipes Remembered by June Hersh

Every year Freda hosts both Seders at her house with her entire extended family. She cooks everything, but is famous for her stuffed cabbage.  Freda says, " This is the original recipe" she ate as a child, but notes, " I had no idea how to make it then, and I really didn't care."  Lucky for us, she does now.  Freda's version is clean and simple with a definite sweet and sour tug of war. She prefers using a small head of cabbage, feeling the leaves are a better size to stuff, and the head of cabbage is easier to handle.


1 small green cabbage (about 1 ½ pounds), boiled

For the filling:
1 pound ground beef  (80/20 ground chuck works best)
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 piece matzo, soaked until soft, then squeezed dry
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
3/4 easpoon kosher salt
1/4teaspoon black pepper

For the sauce:
1 (15- ounce) can tomato sauce
15 ounces water (fill the tomato sauce can)
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 2 lemons or a pinch of sour salt


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Prepare the cabbage by removing the center core. Cook the whole cabbage until the leaves begin to wilt, at least 15 inutes.  Carefully remove the cabbage from the water, (pierce the cabbage with a large serving fork to lift out of the water, support the cabbage underneath with a large slotted spoon.) Place the cabbage on a dish and let it cool so you can easily begin removing the outer leaves. Keep the water on a low boil, in case you need to place the cabbage back in to help loosen the inner leaves. Begin peeling the cabbage, you will need 15 to 18 leaves. Cut a small V-shape in each leaf to remove the hard white rib. Let the leaves hang out on a paper towel to help absorb any remaining water.

Prepare the filling by heating 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet, cook and stir the beef, over medium heat, until nicely browned, about 10 minutes, breaking up any large pieces. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon. Discard the liquid from the pan and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, cook and stir the onions, over medium heat, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Combine the onions and meat and let them cool for a few minutes.

While the meat mixture cools, soak the matzo in cold water, until it is soft, but not mushy; it should resemble wet cardboard.  Remove from the water and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add the matzo to the meat and onions and then stir in the eggs, water, salt and pepper.

In a Dutch oven or covered pot, combine the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to a slow simmer.

To stuff the cabbage, take a generous spoonful of meat filling and place it in the cabbage leaf, use more for the larger leaves, less for the smaller. Roll the leaf to cover the meat, tuck in the sides, and then continue rolling.  You should have a nice, neat package.  Place the stuffed cabbage rolls in the sauce, close together, layering if necessary. Cover and cook for 1 to 1½ hours, checking occasionally to see if water needs to be added to the sauce to prevent it from drying out. Serve family style with the sauce spooned over the cabbage rolls.


Yield: Yields: 15 to 18 rolls

Several contributors offered stuffed cabbage recipes.  One that was particularly flavorful was provided by Lilly Kaplan, another Hungarian cook. Lilly lines the pot with sauerkraut – 1 large can, rinsed and drained, before filling the pot with the cabbage rolls. Additionally, she chops the small inner leaves and adds those to the pot. When the pot is full, she dots the cabbage rolls with about 1 cup of dried Turkish apricots to add a layer of sweetness. If you don’t have apricots, you could stir 1 cup of apricot preserves into the sauce instead.

I found Ruth Stromer's technique for the cabbage to be unique and effective.  Ruth would freeze the cabbage for several days before preparing the dish. She would then defrost the cabbage and the leaves literally fall off the cabbage head. Be sure to dry them with paper towels to prevent soggy cabbage.

I like to try different meats for the cabbage filling.  Lamb has a rich flavor, try adding oregano or even chopped mint to the mixture. Ground chicken or turkey work well too. Try using a mixture of white and dark meat so the rolls have a juicy taste and moist texture.

Start to Finish: Under 2 hours

Recipes: Passover, Meat, Stuffed Cabbage, Kosher

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