Killing Them Softly: Meat Cabbage Casserole

cookbooks

EDITOR’S NOTE: My recent discovery of our families’ collection of 1970s era church cookbooks has been nothing short of a conversation piece around Al Dente HQ. The kind-hearted and well-intentioned women behind these recipes set cooking back years, all the while trying to kill their families with butter, shortening and lard. Not wanting to hog the glory and splendor for myself, it is my pleasure to share these classic culinary gems with you. These are the original recipes with very little editing. If you have one of these around your house or find one at your parent’s home, please contact me. I would love to get my hands on it.

RECIPE: Meat Cabbage Casserole
AUTHOR: Phyllis Orsino
COOKBOOK: Our Lady of Pompeii’s Society of St. Therese Cookbook
APPROXIMATE YEAR: 1973

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS? This embodies everything I could hope for from a church cookbook. I think about my the men of my own family. These were men that often did not care what dinner tasted like. They worked 8, 10, 12 hours each day, came home and expected dinner on the table at 5, 5:30 or 6 p.m.

The only thing they loved to do more than come home from dinner and tell everyone about their hard day of work was to sit in their chair after dinner and expel every cubic inch of gas in their bodies while reading the evening paper. They would burp so much, the paper would sway in the breeze. The farting would drown out Brokaw or Rather in the background.

They were men. They were also miserable. Their wives were slowly poisoning them with sticks of butter, gallons of oil, and cups of shortening. What wasn’t killing him was mangling their tastebuds. Of course, telling his wife that they wanted something else for dinner would require him to actually speak to her. So, better to look miserable and choke down meat and cabbage casserole.

Meat Cabbage Casserole

  • 1 large solid head of cabbage (about 2 lbs.)
  • 3 tbsp. margarine
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt (half goes in cabbage)
  • 1 lb. each beef, pork and veal, ground
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1 egg
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1 tsp. instant onion soup mix
  • 1 cup milk

Shred cabbage (there will be about 3 quarts). Melt margarine in large skillet or Dutch oven, and add cabbage, cook, stirring until wilted. Add soy sauce, sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt. In a bowl, mix remaining salt and meat, and next 4 ingredients. Gradually stir in milk, and alternate layers of cabbage and meat mixture in shallow 2 quart baking dish, beginning and ending with cabbage. Dot with margarine and bake uncovered, in a 350-degree oven, about one hour. Makes six servings.

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