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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls--Cook-Off 36


Pam R
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Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index.

It's getting cold in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere, and with the cold weather comes the craving for comfort food. So this time, we're going to try our hands at stuffed cabbage rolls. This is one of those dishes that my grandmother would say takes a lot of 'patskying' -- playing around. But it's worth the effort.

RecipeGullet offers two recipes -- Russian Stuffed Cabbage and Holishkes aka Stuffed Cabbage. And there's a Stuffed Cabbage topic here.

So, if you've always wanted to make stuffed cabbage rolls, now is your chance. What do you stuff it with? Lots of ground beef or pork, or just a little to season the rice? I want to know whether you steam your cabbage or do you toss it in the freezer? Are you in favour of raisins in the sauce? What about gingersnaps? Canned tomato soup or crushed tomatoes?

Let's get rolling!

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My grandmother would add chunks of fatty lamb into the pan with the cabbage rolls when she had some. I'd guess that meat in the filling could be anything you want - beef, lamb, veal, pork. .

Edited by Pam R (log)
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Cabbage rolls were never a favourite for me until, as a young child (6 years old, maybe?), I went to the home of my school chum, Sarah. Her mum made cabbage rolls with no sauce and with sauerkraut in there somewhere. I came home and made my mum ask her mum for the recipe. I should see if she still has it...

The Spouse is in charge of cabbage rolls in the Jensen household; he doesn't use sauce either. (No wonder we're married!)

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More on the sauerkraut & cabbage rolls...

My mum doesn't have the recipe any longer but, as she was an adult at the time, she had a better memory of its contents. She tracked down this recipe from Simply Recipes as being similar:

Pork Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Seeing the Hungarian moniker in the description on Elise's blog made me check my Gundel's cookbook to see if they had a recipe for cabbage rolls. Sure enough, they have it and it involves sauerkraut, sour cream, but no tomatoes.

Hopefully, there will be cabbages at the market on Saturday. If so, I will try an adaptation of the Gundel's recipe.

In the meantime, if anyone would like the Gundel's recipe, PM me. I'd be happy to type it up.

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Are you in favour of raisins in the sauce?  What about gingersnaps?

I had to laugh at this. I have done stuffed cabbage rolls twice in the past. Once with raisins, once with gingersnaps. My kids were but toddlers at the time, and every member of my family is still talking about it.

So, since they just laugh about these two items as being two of my bigger disasters, I'm thinking I should try again, sans gingersnaps and/or raisins.

Perhaps add an Asian twist?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Trussing, Chris? I don't think you have to truss them (with string). Just pack them tightly. You can stick a toothpick in them if you are concerned.

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No trussing necessary. A little primer from my last eG stuffed cabbage endeavor:

After freezing or steaming/simmering cabbage, you cut out the vein.

1209001106_f2416750fa_m.jpg

Next place some meat mixture at one end and roll like a fajita.

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1208142167_7e9f60cd78_m.jpg

Line 'em up, sauce and bake.

1209001708_eaa3455979_m.jpg

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After freezing or steaming/simmering cabbage, you cut out the vein.

Ooohh - How long do you freeze for? I always am too impatient with the steaming/simmering and they are never pliable enough. Maybe if I can't see them in the freezer, I'll leave them alone long enough. :laugh:

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I use boiling water in a large pot to peel off the exterior leaves of the cabbage ... that softens them .. then back in the pot and boil til a few more are softened .. repeat ... I don't tie them but put the filling in the center of the leaf and fold in the sides and roll up ...

End product?

my own sweet and sour stuffed cabbage ...

The tomato sauce: yes to raisins and brown sugar and lemon juice and a bit of sweet red wine ... onions added to the final baking ...

another version of my stuffed cabbage

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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After freezing or steaming/simmering cabbage, you cut out the vein.

Ooohh - How long do you freeze for? I always am too impatient with the steaming/simmering and they are never pliable enough. Maybe if I can't see them in the freezer, I'll leave them alone long enough. :laugh:

Actually my method is to put a head of cabbage in a pot with simmering water (core cut out) and pull each leaf when it's good and soft. It does take patience, but I've never done it any other way.

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I'm wondering if anyone's got recipes that use lamb.

We just had this few days ago.

Filling:

1 1/2 c rice

1 lb minced lamb shoulder

1 stick butter or ghee

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 Cabbage head. Choose one that is light (in weight) for its volume.

2 whole heads of garlic. Cloves separated but not pealed.

Fatty lamb shoulder chunks (optional).

Combine the filling ingredients.

Prepare cabbage leaves as demonstrated by Monavano. Remove the ribs and save them, we don't use the dark leaves.

Line the bottom of a pot with the cabbage ribs and the chunks of lamb fat. The ribs keep the rolls off the bottom of the pan and saves them from burning.

Wrap the filling into 3/4" rolls and form one layer in the bottom of the pan then place a few clove of garlic among them and repeat until all the filling and garlic are used.

Add enough water just to cover. Place a plate on the rolls. Place a lid on the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer.

Enjoy with pita bread along with the stewed garlic and Tabasco and or lemon juice in every bite.

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Oh, that's exciting! I just bought a savoy cabbage with the view of making cabbage and wild mushroom rolls this Sunday (they forecast slush & snow for the weekend, so it's time to start cooking those Estonian winter classics). Meanwhile, here's a photo of some cabbage rolls with meat & rice stuffing I made last season - who said that cabbage rolls need to use white cabbage? :raz:

gallery_43137_2974_13302.jpg

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I used to think I hated cabbage rolls, but then I had some Serbian/Croatian ones that used soured cabbage, and had very little tomato-y sauce. I don't really care for sour things, but cabbage rolls made with soured cabbage rock!

So since I can't buy a whole head of soured cabbage in Japan like I can in Canada, I am just going to pray that someone here makes cabbage rolls with soured cabbage. I'm OK with living vicariously. :smile:

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I love cabbage rolls. I like them simple with meat and rice in the filling and baked with a little basic tomato sauce. Definitely no raisins.

prasantrin - funny you should mention those whole heads of soured cabbage. I've never tried it but I was looking at them in the store recently and thinking "I'm tempted to buy that but what am I going to do with it?". Never occured to me to use it as cabbage roll wrappers (I don't usually make cabbage rolls, I just do a lot of hinting if someone I know is making them) but that sounds interesting.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Susan -- and anyone else -- what was the disaster? I have trussing fears myself.

Chris, my disasters were the raisins and gingersnaps. (One of my kids likened the raisins to having the texture of slugs!)

However, keeping them "together" was no problem. I just put them seam side down.

The soured cabbage sounds interesting. I don't think I've ever seen it at my supermarket; would one look in the produce area?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Chris, my disasters were the raisins and gingersnaps.  (One of my kids likened the raisins to having the texture of slugs!)

Well, at least your kids are creative!

The soured cabbage sounds interesting.  I don't think I've ever seen it at my supermarket; would one look in the produce area?

Oops. Part of my reply disappeared during the edit.

In Winnipeg, the soured cabbage is in the produce area, usually around the perimeter in the lightly refrigerated section. I only remember seeing it at one particular large chain of supermarkets, but it may be at the other large chains, as well. I don't recall seeing it at supermarkets in MSP, though I can't say I was looking for it while I was there. :smile: Winnipeg has a large enough Eastern European population to support soured cabbage heads, though, and I'm not sure MSP has the same kind of target group. The soured cabbage, btw, looks like large shrink-wrapped heads of, well, rotten cabbage. :biggrin:

prasantrin - funny you should mention those whole heads of soured cabbage. I've never tried it but I was looking at them in the store recently and thinking "I'm tempted to buy that but what am I going to do with it?". Never occured to me to use it as cabbage roll wrappers (I don't usually make cabbage rolls, I just do a lot of hinting if someone I know is making them) but that sounds interesting.

I used to think that, too. Actually, I used to think something more like, "Gross! Why would anyone buy one of those?!?!?!?!?!" Then one day I gave voice to my thoughts, and my mother replied, "That's what's used to make really good cabbage rolls," or something like that. I think my dad (who was Thai, not Eastern European in any way, but he had very multi-cultural tastes and experiences in food) might have bought one of those heads once to try to make his own cabbage rolls.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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I used to work with a Polish woman who came to the US to make a better life for herself and her siblings. She was not much of a cook, but loved the foods of her past. She introduced me to a store that sold golumkis (golabkis) and after my first one, I knew I had entered a new part of my life. Since then I have made hundreds of them and found that they, with some mashed potatoes, freeze well and make a great microwave lunch for work. I am all over this one!

HC

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I love cabbage rolls. I like them simple with meat and rice in the filling and baked with a little basic tomato sauce. Definitely no raisins.

. . .

My son-in-law has been begging me to make cabbage rolls and I think this is the kind he means! I have never attempted them but if anyone cares to post a recipe I will give it a try for his sake. I love cabbage rolls of the sort you get in a cafeteria (very plain) but hubby won't tolerate cabbage unless it's the Danish red kind. :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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I called the friend who makes the ones I usually beg for. She uses ground beef, a little of that five pepper pork sausage from the grocery store, bacon, rice, salt and pepper for the filling. The beef and rice are predominant with a little kick from the sausage and bacon. I asked her about the tomato sauce she bakes it in and she sounded kinda embarrassed and said "it's just regular canned tomato juice, the kind you buy to drink". I told her no need to be embarrassed on my account, I don't let my ears tell me what tastes good. These are basic, simple, nothing fancy... and I love 'em.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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here are some tips from my slovak ancestors, where serious discussions are always held on the subjecto of cabbage rolls.......

preferred cooking method can vary from slow cooker, to roaster oven, to stovetop, to kitchen oven......

concensus is found on meat...it has to be CHEAP with plenty of fat, so they don't get dry.......pork or beef is optional, some people use a blend....

cabbage head is cored, and placed in boiling water, the leaves are plucked off the head w/ tongs.......

no minute rice......

don't pack the rolls too tightly, or they get rubbery......

season to your taste, tomato sauce consistency from chunky and thick, to a high tomato juice content...

i had dinner with a polish family several years ago, they stuffed with ground beef, wild mushrooms and BARLEY.....

they were in a brown mushroom gravy.......

unused cabbage portions are usually chopped and added to the bottom of the cooking vessel......or saved for sauteeing w/ pierogie, or dumplings and butter.......

if you don't want to go through the work of making the rolls, you can chop your cabbage, then mold your meat and rice into balls, sauce, and cook....

i have kicked around the idea of using collard greens, ground ham, and a smokey ham gravy........

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My slovak relatives also added saurkraut to the pot, addng a little bit of sourness to the tomato mix. NEVER EVER anything sweet like raisins or gingersnaps. :wacko:

had dinner with a polish family several years ago, they stuffed with ground beef, wild mushrooms and BARLEY.....

they were in a brown mushroom gravy.......

Boy, that sounds good to me ! (Was it?)

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My slovak relatives also added saurkraut to the pot, addng a little bit of sourness to the tomato mix. NEVER EVER anything sweet like raisins or gingersnaps. :wacko:
had dinner with a polish family several years ago, they stuffed with ground beef, wild mushrooms and BARLEY.....

they were in a brown mushroom gravy.......

Boy, that sounds good to me ! (Was it?)

it was really good..........

too much "wodka" though..........

where i come from cabbage rolls are served, sliced like a baked potato w/ plenty of sauce ladled into the filing......

i would think the barley / brown gravey option would be much enhanced by some sour cream.......

maybe a similiar deal w/ lamb and yogourt.....

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