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Kathy's Smokin' 02-07-2013 10:54 PM

Smoked Cabbage Rolls and Tribute to Geddy Lee of Rush
This is my "Musical Food" TD entry titled "Cabbage Rolls and Nero d'Avola for Geddy Lee".

Rock group 'Rush' will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18, 2013. Going to Rush concerts, buying Rush albums and partying with my friends to the music of Rush was an integral part of my adolescence.

I came across some interesting information when internet surfing for this TD to find out what Geddy Lee likes to eat. I didn't find anything in particular about his favourite foods but I did find out his parents were Polish. I also found out Geddy is a wine enthusiast, his favourites are Burgundies and he loves Barolo. Huh, almost the same as me. My favourite wine is Barolo and I love Burgundies. I've got a Nero d'Avola premium kit wine aged 5 years that is good and I thought Geddy would appreciate it, especially since he's not a wine snob. It's a smooth and robust red wine, what's not to love? Because of my Polish, Russian, German and Austrian ancestry from my mother's side I know how to feed a Polish son -- CABBAGE ROLLS! Let the food begin.

I'd heard that putting a fresh cabbage head into the freezer and thawing later would eliminate the need to boil the cabbage head to get the leaves off. I decided to try it and it worked! Some of the leaves had a slight pink tinge but they tasted like normal raw cabbage. I prefer the taste of saur cabbage heads for cabbage rolls but we didn't make any this past autumn. The cost of saur cabbage heads in the store (that don't taste nearly as delicious as our homemade) borders on criminal. Gave me an opportunity to find out freezing cabbage heads is a good alternative when our own saur heads are not around.

The frozen cabbage head took about 24 hours to thaw on the counter. Make sure you thaw it in a bowl, a lot of liquid comes out. Long grain brown rice is beside it.

Traditionally raised 'limosine X red angus' ground beef, onions, V8, Celtic raw sea salt and caraway seeds.

Picked up a cool mortar and pestle last week with a low tolerance in between so you don't have to chase what you're grinding. Works great with raw salt and produces a consistent small grain. Much better than using a coffee grinder that produces salt powder, small grains and leaves too many large grains.

Got a chance to run to town and brought more onions into the party.

I undercooked the rice by half the time and cut the water by about 15% to prevent it from turning into mush while the cabbage rolls cooked.

I browned and carmelized the different ingredients separately to control how brown they got. I added the caraway seeds to the garlic when browning because of their relatively small size to everything else.

When browning the beef I added salt, black pepper, cayenne and cinnamon. I normally add cinnamon to everything I make with ground beef including hamburgers. I don't put in enough to taste cinnamon, just enough to give it righteous back vocals.

Adding the can of diced tomatoes.

The cabbage leaves came off the head easily. I chopped up the too small centre and the outer ripped leaf to put in the bottom of the pan to keep the cabbage rolls from sticking. Put olive oil and V8 in the bottom of the roasting pan.

My partner, Carol, picked up a new way to roll them that helps them stay together better. Either in your hand or on a surface, put filling in a mound close to where the cabbage leaf grows out of the core. It's tempting to overfill but the trouble it makes for rolling will cure that temptation quick.

Leave the sides open, tuck and roll the filling snugly to the end of the leaf.

Then tuck the ends into the filling like so.

I've never smoked cabbage rolls low and slow before. I wanted to cook them with the lid off to infuse them with smoke so added a lot of V8 to make up for the open top and to give the rice enough liquid to finish cooking.

Two beautiful leaves left, what to do? McGyver some new filling. Raided the fridge and came out with boiled potatoes and white cheddar cheese. Chopped them up, seasoned with a chopped dill pickle, parsley, caraway seed, celery seed, ground garlic and onion.

They sat on top and I hoped the steam rising while cooking would keep them moist enough.

The work done, I toasted mine and Geddy's Polish ancestors.

Then I made a bloody Mary and added some Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce to honour my paternal Jamaican ancestors. Half of my Jamaican ancestors emigrated there from Germany so they appreciate the cabbage rolls, too, but they definitely drink rum.

After about 2 hours at 260'F I opened the kamado to check the cabbage rolls. The two McGyvered rolls were burning so I quickly pulled them out. Upon opening them for inspection I found out they weren't cooked enough to melt the cheese. I ran out and put the lid on the pan and cooked another hour and a half. At least I accomplished two hours of smoke infusion.

And the final pan of cabbage roll beauty.

This plate's for you, Geddy! Plated on my late Oma's good plates we used for Christmas and special occasions. There's a lot of love and good memories in that plate with one more from today.


I found an unfamiliar but nice sweetness in these rolls and I think that's because the cabbage was frozen first and then thawed. I added more tomato sauce from the pan when eating because I love tangy slow-cooked tomato so much. I also loved the addition of smoke to this dish, it didn't scream smoke, just said it softly. All in all turned out to be a delicious tribute to my music inspiration, Geddy Lee of Rush.

Thanks for looking.

Smoothsmoke 02-07-2013 11:10 PM

Exquisitely phenomenal.

JohnHB 02-07-2013 11:14 PM

Great photo collection. Looks like lots of Work but satisfying result.

JazzyBadger 02-08-2013 12:17 AM

I've been making roasted cabbage steaks recently because I just freaking love them so much. You've inspired me to make some more cabbage rolls. Thanks for this!

DubfromGA 02-08-2013 12:42 AM

Amazing stuff.

You put a lot of work into those and they look great. Outstanding photos....magazine quality.

I have 2112 in my iPod for gym tunes. I need to pick up a copy of their new album, too. Great band and one of the first concerts I saw.

motoeric 02-08-2013 12:46 AM

Well, you're certainly in the right area for a Rush fan. The photos were beautiful and the food looks great.

Alex is also an oenophile and Neil thinks he likes BBQ, but actually likes grilling. Maybe I'll post my own homage. It certainly won't be as nice as yours.


Phubar 02-08-2013 03:54 AM

We need to hook up Girl!
Nice pics!

Wolverine 02-08-2013 04:54 AM

Looks very nice, makes me want to put a spin on 2112 and crack a brew. I've enjoyed Geddy and the gang here at Pine Knob Music theater many times , awesome show, Take off to the great white north is to some an anthem, ha

Pitmaster T 02-08-2013 06:11 AM

I sorta miss my first wife. She was the product of a Croatian mother and Serbian Father in Omaha. Her mother and I spoke the language of cooking. God I loved her mother, and she loved me. She made these nearly exactly like this. I never thought I would like them but I did. They had a bit of clove taste in the sauce. Excellent Christmas Dish. Her father drank that Plum Brandy stuff [Schleeve- o -vitz]? Least that was the way it was pronounced.

Ron_L 02-08-2013 06:38 AM

Great job, Kathy!

We love golabki and don't make them often enough. I like the tip on freezing the cabbage. We'll have to try that!

scp 02-08-2013 06:52 AM

I love the freezeing of the cabbage trick!!

Now I want to hear how you make the saur whole head cabbage. I can't find it around here. Maybe another thread to explain the process,

charrederhead 02-08-2013 07:00 AM


Big George's BBQ 02-08-2013 07:29 AM

Very nice I love stuffed cabbage

Kathy's Smokin' 02-08-2013 07:40 AM

You're right, Pitmaster T, it's slivovitz and pronounced just like you wrote it.

Scp, you have a good idea. I heard several people on this forum express an interest in sauring cabbage heads. Pictures would paint a thousand words, if we make them this fall I'll do a photo documentary. Good idea, thanks.

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words. It was a lot of fun to do especially since my old camera died and I bought a new one. Using that 9 year old cheapo camera was agony, I'm thrilled to have a new one that works well and makes sense.

Pig Daddy 02-08-2013 07:42 AM

Growing up we called em Galumpkis. Wow! Outstanding!

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