Meat and Cabbage aka Sarmas

Here we have a simple sounding dish which my mother called cabbage roll ups and this cook called meat and cabbage. It is very similar to the Armenian sarmas which my friend one year made me for my birthday. So delicious! Sarmas and dolmas are similar, being a little roll of filling surrounded by a leaf, often a grape leaf or cabbage, sometimes a chard leaf. (My personal preference is the grape leaf) The word sarma actually means “a wrapped thing” in Turkish and the word dolma translates as “a rolled thing.” Traditional sarmas and dolmas are generally made with lamb, beef, pork, veal, or goat, minced finely and combined with spices and other items such as rice and diced vegetables, then boiled or baked, depending on the chef’s style and the region. Most are savory but a few can be sweet, more like a dessert, as in Greece. They can be topped with sour cream sauce or served steaming hot. Some like them at room temperature with a little goat cheese. They can be skewered with a toothpick and served as an hors d’oeuvres with a yoghurt dip. Should you decide to try this recipe, it may lead to a culinary voyage through the Mediterranean, Middle East and Central Asia, as these little leaf-wrapped pouches can be found all through that vicinity. Try out variations of the meat and other ingredients, preparations and toppings. Your taste buds will thank you!

A couple notes about the recipe. It is printed below exactly as it is above, you can see. No where does our cook indicate whether to combine the meat and other ingredients, precook the meat, or what sauce is to be poured over the rolls. However, you will combine most of the ingredients except the tomato soup and the cabbage leaves, as if making a meatloaf. The onion should be cooked in the butter until transparent. Next, 2 tablespoons seems too little to spread over 6 cabbage leaves, so either spread the meat out evenly or use more leaves. Your rolls should be about 1″ diameter by 3 1/2″ long. Once you put them into the saucepan, pour the tomato soup over them. You can mix it with water if you need more sauce. Sarah WH can confirm this for me based on her expertise; I know from experience that she makes very good sarmas! :-)

Meat and Cabbage

1 pound hamburger

1/2 cup uncooked rice

2 tablespoons butter or other shortening

1 onion sliced fine

1 egg well beaten

1 can tomato soup

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon parsley, minced

1/2 cup celery, chopped

salt and pepper

6 cabbage leaves

Wash the cabbage leaves and boil until tender. Put 2 tablespoons of meat mixture in each leaf and roll tightly. Secure each roll with a toothpick. Place in a saucepan and pour sauce over rolls. Cover pan tightly and cook slowly for 3 hours.

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