Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Is it the mid-winter slump or that I’m just snowed under with too many New Year projects? Or is it that Constant Companion and Daughter are not attracted to the leftovers (delicious on round one) leaving me to finish or to stash in the freezer for a day when I have nothing for lunch? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of the above; the result is that the past few weeks I’ve not been up to my usual daily cooking.

In the meantime, I’m faced with what to do with all the ground turkey in the freezer. Unlike those Chopped judges, we prefer turkey to ground beef. Somehow, I am able to transform it into tasty meals. The latest was what I call a deconstructed stuffed cabbage. The Nosher recipe used more contemporary language – Stuffed Cabbage Hack. Honestly, I don’t really understand what “hacks” are, sorry!

This recipe was relatively easy and … thanks to Constant Companion who made short work of the leftovers! Got to love him!

Deconstructed stuffed cabbage. Start by browning and crisping some non-pork bacon cut into 1” pieces. The recipe called for beef bacon; I usually have turkey bacon in the house. I guess you could use pork if you eat that meat. When nice and crispy, remove from the skillet and reserve.

Next, add one finely chopped onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and one medium chopped cabbage (I used ½ cabbage, a whole cabbage would have swamped my skillet and made too much). Cook for 7-10 minutes over a medium heat. Remove from the skillet and reserve.

Turn the heat to high and add one pound of ground meat to the skillet. Cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add a 28 ounce  can of crushed tomatoes (I omitted this), 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp sugar (also omitted, as were the crushed red pepper flakes), and 2 dried bay leaves. Stir in the cabbage/onion combination. Return the “bacon.” Bring all to a simmer, then turn down to medium heat for a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes

In the meantime, cook a package of pasta of your choice as directed on the package. Could be egg noodles. I used a really cute and tasty Papillon pasta waiting to be used in the pantry. Last step, when the noodles are ready, take 2-3 large spoonfuls of pasta water and add to simmering meat mixture. This trick adds nicely to the sauce.

Serve with the pasta, you can mix together the meat with the pasta. We enjoyed spinach sautéed with a spoonful of black garlic salt and steamed vegetables on the side.

As I wrote above, a nice, relatively easy weeknight dinner.

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