Seems just about every country and culture have a recipe for this dish. Most popular is the polish version but there are all kinds. There is a Jewish version, a middle eastern version made with lamb and a Ukrainian version where the sauce is made with sour cream. So many kinds of stuffed cabbages.
The Polish version is called Golabki, literally translated it means little pigeons. Not sure how they came up with that name since there is no pigeon in them and they don't look like a pigeon.
We made them this weekend stuffed with venison, smoked sausage and rice. There are all sorts of combinations of meats and grains like kasha and millet.
As always when shopping for cabbages always choose solid sound cabbages. This will almost always ensure a quality finished product.
Bring a pot of water big enough to fit a head of cabbage to a boil. Then bring it down to a simmer. Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and carefully put the head into the water. Wait a few minutes and then using a couple of large spoons turn the head over. Watch out for splashing, the water could burn you.
When the leaves start getting soft start to remove them carefully one by one. Be careful not to break them apart. Stack them on the side and continue till the leaves become too small to use.
Next, prepare the stuffing.
Stuffing Ingredients for approximately ten golabki:
- 1lb ground meat (Venison, pork, beef, chicken, turkey, or any combination)
- 1/4 lb kielbasa or other smoked sausage ( you can substitute some cooked bacon)
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2 large onions diced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon marjorum
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill
- 1/2 cup red wine, white wine or beer, you could even use vodka.
- salt and pepper to taste
Get a saute pan hot over med/high heat. Melt some butter or oil in the pan and drop in the caraway seeds. When the seeds start to crackle throw in the chopped onions and chopped garlic. Saute these till they are golden and starting to brown. Then put in the chopped kielbasa along with the rest of the herbs and spices. Cook these a little and there should be a sticking browning action going on on the bottom of the pan but not burning. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and stir up all that caramelized goodness. Then set the pan aside to cool.
Use fresh ground meat, you can use beef, pork, lamb, turkey or any combination. Here we used venison. Take the meat in a bowl and then with your fingers incorporate the cooked rice until it is well mixed.
Once the rice is well incorporated add the cooled ingredients from the saute pan. Again using your fingers to mix the stuffing until all of the ingredients are mixed.
- 2 small cans of tomato paste
- 2 cups beef or chicken broth or water (some people use apple cider)
- 1 cup red or white wine
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or to taste.
- 1/2 cup vinegar ( I like using rice vinegar)
- pinch of caraway seeds
- pinch of marjoram
- 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped dill
- salt and pepper to taste
In a pot over medium heat put a little oil and drop in the caraway seeds onions and dry herbs. saute briefly then add the wine. Add the tomato paste and the broth or water till you get a slightly thick but still broth like consistency. The sauce will thicken a lot when you put it in the oven. Then add all of the ingredients. simmer for a few minutes and then turn off heat and set aside.
Now the fun part. Rolling them up. Take a leaf and set it out on a cutting board. At this point it is easy to see why people decided to start stuffing them. It makes the perfect pocket for stuffing.
Put a hand full big enough to fit the pocket onto the cabbage leaf.
Then fold the edges over and under like so.
Roll the whole thing over till you end up with something like this then continue till all of the stuff or the cabbage leaves are used up. Which ever comes first.
Now pour some of the sauce into a casserole dish big enough to fit your cabbage rolls. Make sure you cover the entire bottom of the casserole then start stacking in your golabki until the pan is well filled. Pour some of the sauce over top.and retain some for plating. Cover with lid or foil and bake for an hour to an hour and a half. Depending on how big your rolls are. Check throughout the cook to make sure they do not burn on top. Baste them with a spoon or syringe.
Serve and enjoy this old world stick to your ribs meal. Its not sissy food for sure!
The Ukrainian version is called Holubtsi. It is prepared several different ways there. Pictured above it is prepared nearly the same way as the Polish version though in the Ukraine the stuffing often contains no meat. It is also usually made with millet not rice. The sauce is made with onions, mushrooms sour cream and dill.