Why Cabbage Rolls Don’t Work and What To Do To Keep Them From Falling Apart: Tips From the Chef

Stuffed cabbage rolls are a delicious dish that will grace any holiday table. However, for some hostesses, cooking stuffed cabbage rolls is an asterisk task. It turns out that to prepare this dish correctly, you need to know some nuances.

Stuffed cabbage rolls are simple, hearty, and very tasty. However, not everyone can cope with the cabbage leaf, which does not want to wrap and hold the stuffing. Believe me, cooking stuffed cabbage rolls is easier than it may seem at first glance. The main thing is to know the basic nuances.

Why are the stuffed cabbage rolls falling apart?

Dumplings will fall apart if you try to cook them from raw cabbage. Cabbage leaves need to be boiled and be sure to remove the thick part of the leaf at the base. You will never roll a raw cabbage leaf the way you want it rolled.

Also, the cabbage rolls will fall apart if you don’t place them in a mold or pot correctly. The cabbage needs to be stacked tightly to keep its shape of the cabbage. If you don’t have a lot of stuffed cabbage, don’t try to cook it in a huge pot. The cabbage leaves are sure to unfold if they float freely in the sauce.

How to cook stuffed cabbage rolls so they don’t fall apart

To keep the stuffed cabbage rolls from falling apart, you must be sure to boil the cabbage. Immerse the cabbage in a pan with water with the marrow up, so that the water completely covers the cabbage. Make incisions around the core with a knife, separating the leaves from the cabbage. Turn on the minimum heat. As the water heats up, the top leaves will separate from the cabbage. Repeat the manipulation with the knife and without problems completely disassemble the entire cabbage cauliflower into individual leaves. The separated leaves are boiled for a few minutes and removed from the boiling water.

Also note that in order for the cabbage rolls to hold their shape, it is necessary to cut off the thickest part of the leaf at the base.

Another important point is the correct location of the stuffing when folding the cabbage rolls. Unlike pancakes, where the stuffing is placed on the entire surface of the pancake, the stuffing in the cabbage rolls is placed only at the base of the sheet.

It is also very important how you cook the cabbage rolls so that they do not fall apart. If you do not want the stuffing to fall out of the stuffed cabbage rolls while stewing, put them in the pan very tightly, preferably in even rows. If the stuffed cabbage rolls float freely in the sauce, they will not hold their shape and will fall apart during cooking.

How to braise the stuffed cabbage rolls properly

You can use any double-bottomed pot or casserole dish to braise the stuffed cabbage rolls. If you braise the stuffed cabbage rolls over a closed fire instead of in the oven, place them in the pan vertically in straight rows. Keep in mind that the stuffed cabbage rolls should be stacked flat. In this case, they will hold their shape well and will not fall apart.

However, keep in mind that if you overdo it and stack the stuffed cabbage rolls too tightly, the sauce will not be able to get to the bottom layer of the stuffed cabbage rolls and they will burn. If you have already stacked the stuffed cabbage rolls and see that the sauce you pour does not go to the bottom row, move the rolls apart with a knife or spoon so that the sauce can pass to the bottom of the pan. Braise the stuffed cabbage rolls on low heat under a closed lid.

How long should braise stuffed cabbage rolls?

There is no single rule about how long you need to stew stuffed cabbage rolls. It all depends on what you want to achieve. If you like stewed cabbage rolls, braise them for not more than 40 minutes. If you like them very soft, you will need a little more time. Chefs agree that the stuffed cabbage rolls can be cooked for 30 minutes to two hours, depending on how soft you like the cabbage leaf.

Why lazy stuffed cabbage rolls fall apart

Leftover stuffed cabbage rolls are a more simplified version of stuffed cabbage rolls, where you don’t have to wrap the stuffing in the cabbage leaf. In this case, the minced meat is mixed with the shredded cabbage leaf already cooked and the resulting mass is used to form patties, which are called lazy cabbage rolls.

The main rule of lazy cabbage rolls is thick minced meat. If you make a thin stuffing your lazy cabbage rolls will fall apart. If you have already started cooking and the stuffed cabbage rolls fall apart, you can fix the situation by adding one raw egg to the mass. You can also add some cooked rice.

Why can’t the lazy stuffed cabbage rolls in the oven work?

Lazy stuffed cabbage rolls are the simplest variation of stuffed cabbage rolls imaginable. All you need to do is put the stuffing and cabbage mixture in a bowl, form the cutlets, and carefully place them in a baking dish.

However, there is an important point here – raw minced meat does not hold its shape. If you want to cook lazy cabbage rolls in the oven, never put them immediately into the baking dish. Such stuffed cabbage rolls must first be lightly fried in a pan to allow the minced meat to set. It is not necessary to cook them in a pan until they are ready. Fry them literally for 4-5 minutes on each side, and then you can safely put them in a baking dish, pour the sauce and send them to the oven.

Also note that for baking in the oven, lazy cabbage rolls are better placed in a single layer, so they will definitely hold their shape.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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