Polish Stuffed Cabbage (Gołąbki)

During pre-world war II Poland, my grandmother and my young mother, owned and ran a small butcher shop. It slowly emerged as a small café-type restaurant just around the corner from the Gestapo headquarters. They frequented the café often. My grandmother was Austrian (as I), but my mom was Polish born. Luckily, the takeover of Poland did not affect them since they were Austrian citizens. They later left the country without much trouble. I’d like to share a few recipes from my grandmother that was passed down to me and I would like to share them with you. This is her Stuffed Cabbage Recipe.

Ingredients:

5 small heads of cabbage or 3 very large heads
5 lbs. ground pork (not sausage)
1½ lbs. ground beef
4 cups regular rice
1 large can of peeled tomatoes
2 medium onions or 1 large onion diced fine
2 small cans of tomato paste
6 Tbsp. Lard
Salt and pepper

Cook rice and set aside to cool. Cut deep around stalk end of cabbage and put in boiling water. Remove leaves one at a time as it cooks away from the stalk and set aside to cool. Continue with all heads of cabbage.

Get a frying pan and melt a tablespoon of lard. Sauté diced onions.

Mix rice, salt, pepper, sautéed onions, beef, and pork in a large mixing bowl. You can trim each leaf at the stem end so the leaf is flatter (less thick) so the leaves can be rolled easier if you wish.

Layer the bottom of roast pan with leaves (use small ones and leave large ones for stuffing).

Fill leaves with the meat mixture, roll and fold the sides over, and pack them in a roast pan with folds facing the bottom.

When the roast pan is full, layer top of the cabbage rolls with extra leaves.

Spread the tomato paste and lightly salt the top of cabbage rolls. Pour two (2) cups of water over rolls. Pour the can of peeled tomatoes over the top and spread around.

Put the remaining 5 Tbsp. of lard on top for taste.

Cover and bake at 300° to 325° for 4 to 5 hours or less (check them in case your oven temperatures vary). Check for moisture from time to time so the bottom doesn’t burn. If too much liquid develops, ladle excess out, but keep some liquid in.

Make a lot, because there is never enough. I make 2 full roast pans just in case, especially if I’m going to take the time to make a mess for my wife. They are great for leftovers.

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