Cooking Louisiana  -  New Year's Cabbage Rolls
New Year's Cabbage Rolls

When I was growing up, cabbage rolls were a New Years tradition in our South Louisiana home along with the black eye peas and ham. When I married, I found out those were also a tradition in my husbands home as he grew up. Soooo, for the past 35 years they have been a New Years tradition in our home. We vary the recipe a little from year to year and we try to use the flat head cabbage. It seems we get a few more whole leaves from this variety. Cabbage rolls freeze very well and we really like them so we make a big recipe, but, it can be reduced to make enough for one meal. This recipe is not written in stone. Vary it to your own taste.

New Years Cabbage Rolls; Large recipe

2 tablespoons oil
3 to 4 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped bell pepper
6 pounds ground beef
6 pounds ground pork
4 cups cooked rice
4 eggs
1 10 ounce can diced tomato with green chilies
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
4 cans diced tomato
2 to 3 heads cabbage

In a 12 inch heavy skillet add the oil, onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook uncovered over medium heat stirring occasionally until the seasonings are very limp and the onions are beginning to brown around the edges. Remove heat.

Put a large pot of water to boil on the stove to make the cabbage leaves more pliable. I use a 16 quart boiling pot about ¾ full of water.

While the onion mixture is cooking, prepare the cabbage. Cut around the core and remove the core. Remove the whole leaves from the cabbage (under running water if necessary). You should be able to remove a little over half of the head before the leaves become too small. For the above recipe, we used two heads of ‘flat head’ cabbage.

In a large dish pan or other large container, add ground beef, pork, rice, eggs, 10 ounce can tomato with chilies, salt, pepper, cayenne (go easy, a little goes a long way) and the cooked onion mixture from the skillet. Using your well washed hands mix everything thoroughly. I fry a tiny paddy to test for seasoning.

In the large pot of boiling water, place 6 to 8 leaves of cabbage at a time for about 2 minutes or less. The water does not have to return to a boil. You’re not cooking the cabbage, just making it a little softer. Put the slightly limp leaves aside until they’re all done.

Place about ¾ of a cup of the meat-rice mixture, shaped into a meatball, inside of one leaf and roll the leave around the meat ball. Put the cabbage rolls, loose edges down, in a 2 ½ inch (or more) deep baking dish. It took us four 11 x 17 inch baking pans for this recipe.

Using the remaining 4 cans of diced tomato, pour one can over cabbage rolls in each pan. You can use diced tomato and green chilies if you prefer just decrease or eliminate the cayenne pepper. Cover the pans with foil and bake at 350* for about 2 ½ hours. Cooking time is less if you are making a smaller recipe. Cook long enough for the meat to be done.

Recipe yields 30 to 40 cabbage rolls.


*You like green onions and parsley? Add them to the raw meat mixture.

*Don’t pack the cabbage rolls too tight in the pan or the liquid will run over during cooking (Voice of experience, what a mess!).

*You can half or quarter the recipe. If you do, reduce the cooking time also.

*Cabbage rolls freeze very well. Plastic zip bags work well. Remove all the air from the bag by placing a straw in the bag, zip the bag up to the straw and suck out all the air, pull the straw out with your teeth while finishing the zip. If freezing in a square container place a sheet of moisture-vapor proof plastic wrap (Saran) on top and mold it to the top of the cabbage rolls by gently dabbing the wrap with a paper towel to conform to the rolls removing all air spaces, put a lid on the container container, label and freeze.

*My mother in law cooks her cabbage rolls on top of the stove in a big black iron pot, adding water as the liquid boils out.

*Cabbage rolls can be made a day or two in advance. Keep refrigerated until needed.

Submitted by C. Daigle - Houma, LA