Instant Pot Grandma Lil’s Stuffed Cabbage
Instant Pot Grandma Lil’s Stuffed Cabbage
When certain foods enter our mouths, they are so much more than just the delicious flavors we are tasting – they are also about nostalgia, family and love. One bite of my beloved Grandma Lil’s old-school, delicate and outrageous stuffed cabbage does that to me every time. So I just KNEW I had to do her and this magnificent meal of hers justice and convert it to the Instant Pot!
From our family to yours, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
1 large head of cabbage (get one that will fit your Instant Pot), steamed with leaves peeled and remaining core chopped
5 medium yellow onions; 2/3 of one grated for the meat mixture, the remaining 4 chopped into chunks for the sauce mixture
2 lbs of ground beef (85% – 90% lean)
1/2 cup of either long grain white or brown rice, cooked according to instructions
A few pinches of black pepper
A few pinches of kosher salt
1 tsp of crushed or minced garlic
2 46oz. cans of tomato juice
1 6oz. can of tomato paste
3 lemons, squeezed
4 tbsp of white granulated sugar
1 tbsp of Crisco
I used an IP-DUO80 (8 quart) for this as opposed to the IP-DUO60 (6 quart). You can totally make it in the 6qt., you’ll just need to likely make in two batches instead of one.
- Place the head of cabbage, core facing down, on the trivet in your Instant Pot with 2 cups of water. Hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release, transfer to a bowl or plate and let cool. Dump out the water when done. I find this is SO much easier than boiling it and makes the leaves much easier to peel!
- While the cabbage is cooking, immediately boil water on the stove to make the rice for the meat filling. Cook according to package (usually about 15-20 minutes).
- Make the meat mixture which includes the ground beef, 2/3 of one grated onion, the egg, garlic, the rice (make sure it’s cooled down some) one pinch of salt and pepper. Mix by hand (it’s fun!)
- Take the cooled cabbage and carve out a a little circle around hard core on the bottom and remove – only carve about an inch deep into the cabbage. This will make the leaves easier to peel. CAREFULLY peel off each layer of leaves and set on a plate. Be sure to shave down the thick vein which runs down the center and is toward the bottom of each leaf as well. Layer all the leaves on top of each other, shaved vein side down.
- With the vein side of each cabbage leaf facing down, take about a meatball sized amount of the meat mixture and place at the bottom (the wider part) of the leaf and then roll it up and tuck in the sides. Repeat this until all the flexible cabbage leaves are used up and set aside on a plate. Make sure you stop when about 3/4 of the cabbage is gone and you are left with the harder, whiter part. When done, depending on the size of your head of cabbage, you can get as many as 18-20 rolls!
- Chop the very white and harder remaining part of the cabbage up into thick flakes and also chop the 4 remaining onions and set aside (you may not use all of this but better safe than sorry in case you do).
- Make the sweet & sour sauce by mixing together the tomato juice, tomato paste, sugar, lemon juice, pinch of salt and pepper. Taste it! Make sure it’s up to your tastes. If you want more lemon, add more lemon! If you want more sugar, add more sugar!
- With the trivet in the Instant Pot, we are going to assemble our stuffed cabbage and sauce lasagna-style. Start by spooning in enough of the sauce so that the bottom of the pot is covered. Add a handful of the chopped onions and chopped cabbage. Then, layer in as many of the stuffed cabbages you can (but don’t squeeze them in there) with the seam of the roll facing down. Pour more sauce over the layer of stuffed cabbage. Now cover with more chopped cabbage and onions and pour more sauce over that. Add another layer of the stuffed cabbage covered with more chopped cabbage and onions and top off with the rest of the sauce and add the Crisco to the top.
NOTE: Be mindful of your Instant Pot’s brim. We filled our 8qt. to the max line but if you have a smaller pot like the 6qt, you should do this portion in 2 batches.
- Secure the lid and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 18 minutes. Because there is SO much going on in this pot, it is entirely likely it will take a good 35 minutes or so for the screen to switch from “On” to the 18 minutes countdown without the pressure pin popping up yet. It may not even come up until the final 10 or 5 minutes of cooking. THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL AND FINE FOR THIS RECIPE. It will cook PERFECTLY!
- Allow a 15 minute Natural Release when done and when the display reads “L0:15” finish with a quick release. All-in-all, you’re looking at about an hour of cooking time
- Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the stuffed cabbages to a nice, big serving dish and add the sauce with the chunks of cabbage and onions to it.
- Enjoy this as much as we did!