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12 large cabbage or grape leaves
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 lb. freshly ground beef
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 bay leaf

Cook the rice according to package directions, but 2-3 minutes less.

Wash leaves. In a colander over hot water, steam leaves for 5-10 minutes or until they soften enough to roll up. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. If cabbage leaves have a thick stem, you can thin it down using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife.

Combine meat, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, rice and egg. Place a spoonful of the meat mixture in the center of each leaf. Fold the sides up over the filling and tuck in the edges. Fasten with a wooden toothpick. Repeat until all leaves are used.

Place in a greased 2 quart baking dish. Combine tomato juice, vinegar, oil and salt to taste. Pour tomato mixture over cabbage rolls in dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Add bay leaf.

Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 minutes (add liquid during baking, if needed), removing foil during the last 10-15 minutes of baking time to allow the cabbage tops to brown lightly.

Variation: Sometimes we prepare these in a large pot on the stovetop. Place a few leaves of cabbage on the bottom of the pan before placing a layer of rolls and a little sauce; top with another layer of cabbage and some sauce, etc. Another variation calls for golden raisins to be added to the meat mixture.

Submitted by: CM
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