Cabbage Rolls

   You need:
  • 1lb Ground beef (or pork, probably)
  • 2 cans tomato soup
  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 egg
  • cinnamon
  • (onion is optional, I did not use it this time)
  • tomato juice (or veg. juice like v8) - helpful
  • diced tomatoes optional

Step 1 - Acquire leaves!
Carefully put the entire cabbage in boiling water. This can be dangerous, so be careful! Careful not to splash, careful not to overflow the pot! You want to partially cook the cabbage to soften the leaves. I rotate the cabbage, use tongs to loosen the leaves, and a knife or kitchen shears to remove leaves from the rest.
You don't need to remove ALL the leaves, but you will need at least 8 good ones. I usually collect about 15 before I call it good. After that the leaves get pretty small and, well, you've got enough already.  You can save the rest of the cabbage for something else. Egg rolls maybe? Borscht?

You should now have a nice pile of softened cabbage leaves.
 Let them cool a bit, you don't want to hurt yourself.

Step 2: Fill 'er up!
Mix your ground beef with some uncooked rice (I used 1/3 cup this time). Add an egg. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, onions - I used dehydrated onions this time).  Now you want to add some extra liquid. I had about 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes (and their liquid) leftover so I added that.  Tomato or vegetable juice is good, I added some of that.  You want it pretty moist (the rice will absorb a lot of it).

Step 3: Let's roll!

This part is tricky. I have two different techniques for rolling them, I vary it depending on how the leaves feel like rolling. It really doesn't matter how you do it, just try your best. What's the worst that can happen? It falls apart and still tastes amazing! (I have a lazy version of this recipe that I make which is just beef, rice, cabbage, and tomato soup all mixed up together - no rolling).
For both methods I cut out a trianglar area at the bottom, removing the thickest part of the leaf.

Method 1: Fold bottom over the meat, fold in sides, roll over.
 Method 2: Fold one triangular bit over the meat, fold over the other, fold in another edge, roll over.

Step 4: Cook!

Mix tomato soup with some cinnamon. Don't skimp, this is the good stuff. Pour a layer on the bottom of your pan. Set cabbage rolls in pan, fit them in however works for you.

 Cover with remaining tomato soup/cinnamon mix. I used two entire cans of tomato soup. I also rinsed out the cans with a bit of water and added that to the pan. Waste not, eh?
Cover and simmer on med, med-high. Check on it occasionally, you might need to push down the cabbage rolls if they puff up a bit and scoop more soup on top to keep them covered. Carefully push them around a bit to make sure they aren't sticking to the pan (they probably will a little, but let's try to minimize the damage). I can't say how long to cook them - I can't remember really. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temp of the beef.  You can bake these, too, but they will take longer to cook. 

Step 5: Eat!

Price Breakdown:
Beef (1lb)                  $2
Cabbage                   $.59
Tomato Soup (x2)     $1
Egg                           $.17
Rice                          $.20
Cinnamon                             ??
Total:                        $3.96
(Serves 4)

(This price breakdown is based on: $2/lb ground beef, tomato soup is easily .50/can or less, cabbage varies but estimating using 1lb at .59/lb,  eggs I buy at $2/dzn or less,  rice for now I calculated based on basmati rice but I use regular white which I'm sure is half the price but since I don't have the numbers right now I'll stick with my basmati calculation.  I will try to find a price for the cinnamon - but for the moment I'm not exactly sure how much we used or how much it costs. )

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