Why It Works
- The smoky tomato sauce gets a boost from bacon, beer, paprika, and caraway.
- Covering the cabbage rolls before baking them in the oven keeps them tender and moist.
While I am a summer girl through and through, I take heart in knowing hearty, cool-weather food is one of the joys of autumn.
During that season when summer has one foot out the door, but fall isn’t quite here, I like to take a summertime staple—bratwurst—and turn it on its head, removing it from its casings and then browning the sausage meat and tossing it with rice for cabbage rolls.
After blanching the cabbage leaves, I remove the tough stems and veins, then roll them up around the filling. Once filled, I bake them in a bacon-infused tomato sauce that's spiked with beer, paprika, and ground caraway. Covering the dish in foil while it bakes keeps the rolls moist and helps the flavors meld.
The result is an Oktoberfest precursor that'd be pretty tasty with bread dumplings or spaetzle.
The dish can be assembled a day in advance and then popped in the oven to bake. Take it out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before you transfer it to the oven. It reheats and freezes beautifully, so don't worry if you have leftovers.
For the Cabbage and Filling:
1 medium head Savoy cabbage, whole with core removed
1 1/2 pounds bratwurst, casings removed
2 cups cooked white rice
For the Rolls and Sauce:
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces light beer, such as lager or pale ale
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground caraway
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Non-stick cooking spray
For the Cabbage and Filling: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Place cabbage in a large heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown bratwurst in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking meat into little bits, about 10 minutes total. Drain, add rice, and stir to combine.
For the Rolls and Sauce: Brown bacon in a large saucepan, stirring, over medium-high heat until crisp and rendered, about 5 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper and continue cooking, stirring often, until vegetables start to soften, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add beer, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, paprika, and caraway. Season with salt and pepper. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.
Drain cabbage, and remove large outer leaves, being careful not to tear them. Cut out and discard the tough rib from each leaf. Pat leaves dry with paper towels. Fill each leaf with about 1/3 cup of bratwurst filling. Roll up as you would a burrito, tucking the sides in first. Continue making rolls until all filling is used up.
Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and arrange rolls tightly in the dish. Pour sauce on top. Cover with foil and transfer to the oven to bake until bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes, then serve, spooning sauce on top of cabbage rolls.
9- by 13-inch baking dish, cooking spray
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 36g||46%|
|Saturated Fat 12g||61%|
|Total Carbohydrate 45g||16%|
|Dietary Fiber 8g||28%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 81mg||407%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|