Head, Leaves
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Cabbage Leaves

30 mins  
Cabbage leaves are used in many countries, particularly as wrappers around a filling to form cabbage rolls. Separating cabbage leaves is dangerous. Use caution and the right technique because any slip or inattention can result in Serious Scalding.

See the Photo Gallery for pictorial details.

  1. Things you will need.
    • A Large Pot deep enough so your largest cabbage can be held down completely submerged.
    • A strong sharp Prep Knife of pointed shape.
    • A Wooden Spoon for holding the cabbage down and sloshing it around.
    • A strong metal skimmer (see photo) for lowering the the cabbage into the pot and lifting it out. If your pot is fitted with a mesh basket with a bale handle, that will work even better.
    • A large stainless mixing bowl or similar device for transporting cabbages and leaves from the stove to the sink counter.
    • A good pair of tongs for removing leaves from the pot and/or pulling them from a hot cabbage.
  2. The Cabbage:  Many recipes call for one large cabbage head. I prefer two medium heads (about 2-1/2 pounds each) for several reasons:
    • Smaller heads are much safer to handle.
    • Leaves will be more uniform in size.
    • Large cabbage leaves make rather bulky rolls.
  1. Remove damaged outer leaves from cabbages and cut out the stem core. Cut the core out out very thoroughly for two reasons:
    • So hot water can get at the stem ends of the leaves for more even softening.
    • Most of the larger leaves will come loose just by sloshing the cabbage around with a wooden spoon in the core cavity. You can then simply lift them out with tongs - much safer than having to lift out the whole cabbage to pull the leaves loose.
  2. Put your largest cored cabbage in the pot and fill with water. This is to make sure there isn't too much boiling water in the pot which would overflow disastrously when you put a head of cabbage in.
  3. Remove the cabbage and put in 1 T Salt. Bring the water to a rolling boil on your hottest burner.
  4. Carefully lower a cabbage into the boiling water. If you don't have the mesh basket mentioned above, set the cabbage top down on the skimmer. Insert the wooden spoon into the core cavity to stabilize it and slowly lower it into the water.
  5. With the spoon inserted into the core cavity push the cabbage below the water and start gently rocking it about. In about two minutes the outer leaves should start to separate. As they do, pull them out with the tongs and place them in the bowl. Inner leaves are too convoluted to come loose like this, but they're probably too small by then anyway.
  6. If you find you need to lift the cabbage out, use the same method as for lowering it in (but it will be a lot heavier) and lower it into the bowl. Dump the leaves out into the sink before doing this.
  1. Check your leaves for flexibility. If any are stiff or have opaque areas, just put them back into the pot of boiling water for a minute.
  2. Shave the thick center rib with a sharp knife so it's thinner and flexible like the rest of the leaf.
  3. Set a leaf on the cutting board and spoon on 2 to 3 T of the stuffing mix about an inch in from the stem end (see photo). Roll the stem end over the stuffing, then fold in the left and right sides. Finish rolling and set aside, seam side down. Repeat until you run out of stuffing or leaves.
  1. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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