I once met a hearty Wyoming woman who lived in a farmhouse, and her kitchen smelled wonderful. When I inquired about the source of the aroma, she said she was making a pot of stuffed cabbage rolls. This is my version, inspired by the memory of those good kitchen smells. It is cooked in a tomato sauce base, which is the traditional Eastern European way. These are elk stuffed cabbage rolls, but of course you could make it with any ground meat you have on hand. Bison would work well, as would venison, beef and turkey. You can even lear how to grind your own meat here.

Elk Stuffed Cabbage Rolls:

Elk Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

These are a great dish to make in advance and reheat later. They are that perfect Sunday meal that you can make ahead for the week and portion out as you wish. Bonus points if you try making this homemade roasted tomato sauce to go along with it!

Elk Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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Elk Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins


  • 12 cabbage leaves large and unblemished 1 pound ground elk meat
  • 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, unstrained
  • 2 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water


  • Bring a pot of water as salty as the sea to a rolling boil. Drop the cabbage leaves into the water, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the elk, rice, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, salt, pepper, cream, Marsala, and tomato paste, and mix well.
  • Lay out the cabbage leaves on a cutting board or clean surface and place a twelfth of the elk mixture into the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold the top and bottom edges toward each other, then roll the outer leaves around the filling and fasten with toothpick. Place the rolls in a baking dish and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, garlic, and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes, until well blended. Pour over the cabbage rolls.
  • Bake, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and carefully remove the toothpicks.


Also try: other antlered game, and bison

Georgia Pellegrini

Growing up on her family’s farm in upstate New York, Georgia developed a passion for simple farm-to table food and a deep connection to the outdoors. Having worked in the finance world after college, she decided to leave her cubicle and reconnect with her roots. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, she began working in Michelin restaurants in New York and France, and soon started leading her renowned Adventure Getaways: excursions around the country aimed at promoting “manual literacy” and helping participants step outside of their comfort zone and experience life more viscerally. Georgia is a firm believer in empowering people to be self-sufficient, identify personal strengths and pursue their life passions.