- 1 large head green cabbage (about 4 lb)
- 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
- 11/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 4 cups crushed canned tomatoes
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg
- 2 large onions, 1 grated on the large holes of a box grater and 1 thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
- vegetable oil for greasing the pan
Prepare the cabbage leaves
Fill a large pot halfway with water, set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Use a sharp knife to cut out the cabbage’s core, as deep as you can go. When the water is boiling, carefully drop in the head of cabbage, core-side down, and cover the pot tightly with a lid. Boil the cabbage for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer it to a cutting board. Using a pair of tongs, carefully detach as many outer leaves as possible. When you cannot easily remove more leaves, return the cabbage to the water and boil for 10 minutes more. Repeat the process until you have 18 soft, pliable cabbage leaves. Use a sharp knife to trim off the bottom of each cabbage leaf’s tough, inner rib (the leaves should roll easily) and set aside.
Cook the rice
Meanwhile, fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and set over high heat. When the water is boiling, turn the heat to medium, stir in the rice, and cook for 15 minutes; drain and set aside. (The rice should be about halfway cooked.)
Make the sauce
In another medium saucepan, stir together the cranberries, brown sugar, and vinegar and set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and mashing the cranberries with a potato masher or the back of a spoon, until the fruit is soft and has released its juice, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 1 tsp of salt. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then remove from heat. Taste and add more salt, if desired.
Add the ground beef, rice, egg, grated onion, carrot, 1 tsp of salt, and a generous amount of pepper to a large bowl. Use your hands to combine the mixture.
Assemble and Bake
Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Lightly grease the bottom of a large Dutch oven or deep 9-by-13-in baking dish with vegetable oil and arrange the sliced onion rings evenly across the bottom.
Form the cabbage rolls: Spoon 2 heaping Tbsp of the meat filling along the bottom edge of a cabbage leaf, leaving about 1/2 in of space. Fold that 1/2 in up over the filling, then fold each side of the leaf toward the center. Roll the cabbage leaf up and away from you, tucking the filling inside a neat package. Place the cabbage roll, seam-side down, into the Dutch oven or baking dish. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
Use a ladle to spoon most of the cranberry-tomato sauce over the rolls, reserving about 1 cup. Cover with a tight-fitting lid (or two layers of aluminum foil, if using a baking dish) and bake until the cabbage is tender and the rice is fully cooked, about 60 minutes. Uncover and spoon the reserved sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover again and bake for 30 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot. Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.