Making stuffed cabbages is a big deal for me. In fact, EATING stuffed cabbages is even a bigger deal.
When I was growing up, it seemed like we had stuffed cabbages ALL the time!
This was a typical Sunday in our house…
We would all go to church in the morning…
After church, we’d go into the living room while my Dad put on Polka Varieties (oh, I can’t even believe I’m telling you this!)…
Suddenly the living room was filled with polkas and my sisters and I would dance around the living room with my Dad.
Mom was in the kitchen mashing potatoes to go with the stuffed cabbages – otherwise known as gołąbki (gaw-WOHMP-kee).
Every Christening, every Confirmation and every holiday had stuffed cabbages as part of the celebration.
Sometimes my Aunts would bring stuffed cabbages…sometimes several of my Aunts would bring stuffed cabbages to the same party.
Then it would be a stuffed cabbage smack down.
Needless to say, when I left home – I left stuffed cabbages behind and haven’t had one in 30 years.
Last week, I found myself craving them and wanted to recreate the cabbage rolls of my youth.
I don’t have Mom’s recipe and spent a few days researching different recipes online and was really surprised what I found.
It seems like every nationality claims cabbage rolls as their own – Slovak, Polish, Russian and Jewish.
Since Mom is Slovak and Dad is Polish, I came up with the recipe close to what she would make (with the exception of sauerkraut – I like sauerkraut!)
Here we go…the recipe is a bit time-consuming but certainly worth the effort!
Start with a whole head of cabbage and peel off the outer leaves.
Immerse cabbage head in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until outer leaves are soft and not mushy.
Pull the whole head from the hot water and let cool. (Keep the water on a low boil for you will use it again.)
Mix the meat filling with 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef, 1/2 lb. ground pork, 1 egg, 1 cup (cooked) brown rice, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 1 tbs. chopped parsley, 1 tsp. sweet Paprika, 1 tsp. allspice and salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well and prepare the cabbage leaves for rolling.
Remove the outer leaf from the head and trim away the thick stem at the base of the leaf.
Turn leave over with the bottom stem facing you.
Fill with about 1 cup of meat filling forming into a little loaf.
Tuck the left side of the leave in and roll.
Once rolled, tuck in the right side of the cabbage roll to secure.
Continue forming rolls with cabbage leaves.
You want need to re-immerse the cabbage head into the boiling water half way throw to soften the inner leaves.
This recipe should make 10 – 12 cabbage rolls depending on the size of the leaves.
Take the remaining cabbage head and chop in to small pieces.
Place chopped cabbage and 1 1/2 cups of rinsed and drained sauerkraut in the bottom on a big pot.
Mix up the tomato sauce using the remaining tomato sauce, 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, 2 tbsp. tomato paste, 1 tbs. brown sugar, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 cup chicken stock and salt and pepper to taste.
Cover the sauerkraut with a layer of stuffed cabbages followed by half the sauce.
Layer another 1/2 cup of sauerkraut over the cabbage rolls and top with the remaining rolls.
Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls and cover with a tight fitting lid.
Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat and once boiling, reduce to a low simmer.
Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours until cabbage leaves are soft.
Note: you don’t want to cook the cabbage rolls at too high of a heat for it may break up the delicate leaves.
We like ours with mashed potatoes and some people top with sour cream.
I’m off to surprise my Dad with a bowlful of yesterday!