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BackstoryRoll up your sleeves, this takes time, but the sauce compliments the rolls so well. I believe this came from Time-Life books on Russian cuisine...
- 3 lb. head of cabbage
- 12 Tbsp. butter (1-1/2 sticks)
- 3 cups finely chopped onions
- 1/4 cup long-grain unconverted rice, cook until done
- 3/4 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup finely cut fresh dill leaves
- Drop the cabbage into a large pot of boiling water and let it cook briskly for about 10 minutes. Remove cabbage (letting water continue to boil) and carefully detach as many of the outer leaves as you can until it becomes difficult to separate them. Return the cabbage to the boiling water and cook for a few minutes longer. Remove and again detach as many more leaves as you can. Repeat this process until the whole cabbage has been separated in individual leaves. (Discard small leaves)
- In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, melt 4 Tbsp. of butter of high heat. Add 2 cups of onions and, stirring occasionally, cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly browned. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl and add the ground meat, rice, 1 tsp. of the salt and a few grindings of pepper. Mix together until well combined. Taste for seasoning.
- Lay cabbage leaves side by side and, with a small knife, trim the base of each leaf of its tough rib end. Place 1/4 cup of filling in the center of each of the 12 largest leaves, less filling on the small leaves, and roll up all the leaves tightly, neatly tucking in ends as if you were wrapping a package.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, melt 4 Tbsp. of butter in the 2 Tbsp. of oil over high heat. Fry 4 to 6 cabbage rolls, seam side down, 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Watch carefully for any signs of burning. Transfer rolls to shallow oven-proof baking dish just enough to hold them in one layer.
- Melt the remaining 4 Tbsp. of butter in the skillet and add the remaining cup of chopped onions. Cook 3 or 4 min., or until soft and translucent, then stir in the chopped tomatoes, the remaining tsp. of salt and a few grindings of pepper. In a small mixing bowl, beat the flour into the sour cream a tsp. at a time and stir the mixture into the simmering sauce. Taste for seasoning and pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls, masking them completely.
- Bake uncovered in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped dill and serve at once.