Spicy Cabbage Roll Failure

Last night I attempted the recipe for Spicy Cabbage Rolls in NT. (Incidentally, some of the recipes in there are CHALLENGING! I consider myself an experienced cook, but I really have to concentrate on these or I leave stuff out. Like I did last night. Heh.)

For those that don’t have the book, the basic idea is you cook a filling of ground turkey, spices, rice, and egg, and roll it up in steamed cabbage leaves. These are then steamed in broth, the broth is reduced and thickened, and used as a sauce.

The first hurdle was the spices. My kids can’t have the “spicy” spices it calls for, so instead I planned to flavor it with Tarragon and Dill, which are flavors we use in a turkey stir fry recipe that we like. Steaming the cabbage went well, cooking the turkey was fine. Finally, I was ready to put the filling in the cabbage leaves. This was really fun! A few spoonfuls, fold in the sides, roll it up, put it in the pan. Good deal. Then I poured broth over the top and put it on the stove to bring to a boil. About that time, I realized I left out the garlic…AND the rice…lame. Nick told me to take them apart and put it in and then redo all of them…um, no. Grrr…

So it came to a boil, then I put the lid on a set it in the oven at 300 degrees. (I’ve never cooked at such a low temp!) The recipe says to leave it in for an hour, but we were hungry. Finally I got tired of waiting after about 40 minutes. When I pulled the pot out, they had all fallen apart. There were pine nuts and pieces of meat floating in the midst of cabbage leaves. At this point, no joke, I burst into tears. Allow me a little hormonal outburst. After all, I just had a baby two months ago. šŸ˜‰

I pulled myself together, scooped out the half-rolled cabbage rolls with a slotted spoon, and started boiling the broth to reduce it. Again, I suspect I was just too impatient, but I never did get the sauce to thicken properly. Note to self: this recipe takes awhile. Don’t start it unless you have time to finish it! Heh.

We ate it with rice, and it was fine, but I would do a few things differently next time. (Actually, my kids enjoyed the kale chips I made much more. Who’s going to complain about your 4 year old asking for more kale? Not me!) First, I think adding the rice to the rolls would have helped them stay together. But even then, the whole thing needed some color. The pale cabbage with the brown turkey and brown rice and flecks of green spices just looked very….healthy. In a not-so-good way. šŸ™‚ I LOVE this technique, and would totally use it again, but I think I will take the Turkey Stir Fry recipe we have made for years, and cut the veggies (carrots, celery, and red bell pepper) very small, and wrap it like this. THAT would be delicious! And colorful. šŸ™‚



  1. Kyla said,

    March 3, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Brian’s grandmother used to make him cabbage rolls and they are one of his favorites. Most of her recipes were lost when we cleaned out her house so I have had to try by trial and error to get mine to taste like her’s.. But anyway, when I make them I use a toothpick to hold them together. This has helped avoid the floating insides.

  2. Sara Kay said,

    March 3, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Good idea! Thanks for the tip. šŸ™‚

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