Stuffed Cabbage (Gołąbki)

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Gołąbki, golubtsi, Polish burritos…stuffed cabbage. From Poland to Ukraine to Turkey all the way to Azerbaijan, stuffed cabbage occupies a spot in top 10 comfort food lists of countless cuisines.

Gołąbki in Poland are almost always served with a tomato based sauce, and are stuffed with a combination of meat and rice (at least that I’ve seen). This recipe also incorporates a few subtle sweet and sour elements (the expert in the house says there must be a few sweet ingredients in the sauce). There are a lot of steps, but you just need to be a little organized in the kitchen and these will turn out great! A quick note on the sauce–apricot jam is just something we always have on hand and is a nice addition to the sauce with its tangy sweet flavor. If you have another jam that has some sour flavor, you can use that. If not, no need to buy a jar of jam just for this recipe, just omit it altogether and add 1 more tablespoon of raisins.

If you do not have a Dutch oven to bake these, no worries! Just use a wide pot and cover with a lid or foil. Ok enough talk…let’s get cooking!

*Makes about 16 cabbage rolls*

Ingredients:

Rolls:

  • 1 large head of green or Savoy cabbage
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • large pot of water

Filling:

  • 1.5-2lbs ground meat (pork or beef is traditional, but turkey and chicken are fine too)
  • 1/2 large Spanish or yellow onion, grated
  • 1/2 large Spanish or yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 raw eggs
  • 2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp vegeta
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp oil or butter

Sauce:

  • 1 Spanish or yellow onion, diced
  • 28oz crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 3 cups reserved water from cabbage
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam (optional)
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tbsp oil or butter

Directions:

  1. Cook 1 cup of uncooked rice according to instructions on packaging. Set aside once cooked.
  2. Fill a large pot 3/4 with water and bring to a low boil. Remove the core of the cabbage (cut a cone-shaped incision about 1/3 the way into the bottom of the cabbage and remove the core). Once water is at a low boil, add white vinegar to pot and drop in the cabbage. Cook for about 10-13 minutes, rotating the cabbage occasionally. Remove the cabbage, peel away leaves, and place the leaves on a platter. They should be soft and slightly tansluscent. If the center leaves are not soft yet, simply place back in pot and cook for a few more minutes. Reserve about 3 cups of the cooking water from the pot for the sauce.
  3. To make the sauce: Sauté diced onion with oil or butter on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients from “sauce” list and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Add sauce to a blender or use an immersion blender, and blend for about 30 seconds or until you have a smooth sauce. You can strain if you want a very smooth consistency, but it’s not necessary.
  4. To make the filling: Grate carrots and cook in pan on medium heat with 2 tbsp. of oil or butter for about 8 minutes along with the diced onion. Add to a large bowl once complete. Add cooked rice and all remaining ingredients from “filling” list above and about 1/3 cup of sauce to bowl. Mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
  5. To assemble: For the largest leaves, remove the stem entirely, leaving you with 2 cabbage leaves. For the smaller leaves, remove the thickest part of the stems (so they are easy to roll). Place about 2 tbsp. of mixture near the top of each leaf, fold over the sides and roll up like a burrito.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F. Spread about 1 cup of sauce on bottom of Dutch oven pot. Place assembled rolls seam down. Once all rolls have been added, pour remainder of sauce evenly over the top. Cover the pot and bake for 1 and a half hours to 2 hours (depending on oven and size of pot). Serve hot with some sour cream and garnish.

The finished product below. Smacznego!

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