Introduction: Polish/Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls
I lived next door to a very nice polish couple for more than twenty years. On several occasion this neighbor would gift us with a batch of Polish/Lithuanian Cabbage rolls or so she called them because of the addition of cream to her recipe. When I would see that lovely lady at my door with a smile on her face and steaming pan of cabbage rolls in her oven mitt covered hands my heart would swell. The smell of them would instantly start my stomach growling. I couldn't wait to dig into them. Cabbage rolls were a staple in her family for generations. it is a heirloom recipe for sure. Although cabbage rolls were a rarity in my family when I was growing up, I am proud to continue my neighbor's tradition of including cabbage rolls as a staple in my family's menu.
Step 1: List of Ingredients Required
- For the rolls:
- 2lbs of meat. Beef/pork/turkey or a combination of these
- 1 large head of cabbage with leaves separated, softened and drained.
- 1 cup of long grain rice.Cooked only half way.
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1+1/2 cooking onions
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1+1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp paparika
- 1 tsp all spice
- For the sauce:
- 1 litre(4 cups) of tomato sauce
- Chichen stock powder no water! * see notes.*
1 can of Cambell's tomato soup
1/2 an onion pureed
1 clove of garlic minced super fine
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 bay leaves
4-5 pepper corns
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 cup of sour cream or heavy cream to be added just at the end of the cooking time
1 Tbsp. of butter or margarine to sauté the onions in.
NOTE * All brands of chicken stock powder have different instructions each one uses different amounts of powder to make 1 cup. Therefore I cannot give you specific amount I can only ask that use the proper amount required to make 4 cups of broth. However do not add the water!!
Step 2: Cabbage Prep.
There are many ways by which people prepare the cabbage leaves for cabbage rolls. It becomes a debate on it's on. This was the first time I prepared the leaves this way and was surprisingly impressed at how efficient it was. Thank you Instructables membernlinventor for the video he posted back in April of 2014. It inspired me to try my hand at using a cordless drill with a hole saw attatchment to core out the cabbage stem.
Start preparing by removing the coarse outside leaves of the cabbage and cutting the stem core as close as possible to the leaves. After washing the hole saw with alcohol and scrubbing it clean with detergent Attatch it to the cordless drill. In order for me to get enough traction and not have a 10 lbs cabbage go flying. I sat with my knees squeezing the cabbage in place while drilling the core out. Be very careful not to cut yourself or twist any body parts. That drill puts an incredible amount of force when the hole saw digs in to the core. I drilled down as far as the hole saw permitted. Then put the cabbage into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. I then removed the cabbage and put it in the sink with some ice water to quickly cool the leaves. All the leaves near the hole just peel right off. Impressive! Those leaves were set to drain . Then repeat the whole process till all the leaves large enough to roll are removed.
The remaining little leaves where shredded, minus the core section. I spread the shreds of cabbage at the bottom of my pans. This helps a lot to prevent the cabbage rolls from sticking to the bottom where there was not enough sauce and burning.
Step 3: Making the Sauce
Melt butter in a skillet on medium-high. Add onion puree and minced garlic. Sauté till the onion is translucent and fragrant.
Transfer the onions and garlic to a large pot. Add the remaining ingredients except the cream or sour cream. Bring the content of the pot to a boil then reduce heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer about an hour. Stirring occasionally.
Remove the pot from heat and add the cream or sour cream. mix it into the sauce. The sauce can now be set aside till your ready to put it on the cabbage rolls.
Step 4: Preparing the Filling for the Rolls
The filling is the main attraction of the cabbage roll. It needs to be moist but not sloppy. It has to hold it's shape but not be to dry. and most of all it needs to be delicious. With the list of ingredients in hand, we shall meet those requirements easily.
Add all the ingredients for the filling, except the cabbage and the rice, into a large bowl..Get your hands in there and get them dirty. This filling needs to be well mixed. we don't want balls of spices in the filling to surprise us at dinner. Make sure the filling is homogenous.
Add half the rice and mix it up again. have a good look at the result. Some people like to put a ton of rice in their cabbage rolls. I am not a fan of this . What can I say, I am a meat person. I like a good 2/3 meat to 1/3 rice ratio. Add more rice to the filling if needed or if you prefer a higher ratio of rice to meat.
Step 5: Putting the Roll in the Cabbage
Roll'em up! It is so rewarding to see these rolls slowly fill up the pan. This work pays off.
I like the filling to be a little larger than the size of an egg or slightly smaller than my fist. however that may end up making some huge cabbage rolls if your a guy. So use your judgement.
Start out by placing a cabbage leaf in front of you the stem should be nearest to you. On the very large leaves i will cut some of the stocky stem off.
Place a spoon of filling on the leaf about an inch from the stem edge.
Fold the edge on the filling.
Fold the left and right sides of the leaf over the folded stem edge. this closes the top of the cabbage roll. the filling should be completely covered at this point.
While still holding the top of the filling and the three sides covering it, begin rolling the filling like a log towards the side farthest to you.
Continue turning the roll over and over till there is no leaf left.
Place the roll in the pan on top of the shredded cabbage left overs making sure that the edge where the leaf ended is on the bottom so the cabbage roll does not come apart. If it comes undone you would have a cabbage leaf with filling on it instead of a cabbage roll.
Stack the cabbage rolls side by side in multiple rows till the pan is full. Do not over stuff the pan as it makes for difficult cooking and increases chance of boil over and/or bottom scorching as the sauce can not make it's way to the bottom.
Step 6: Finish That Roll.
All that is required now is to put the sauce on top of the rolls. Be generous with the sauce. Shake the pan around the get the sauce between and under the rolls.
I like to cover the pan with foil for the first half, then remove it to slightly brown the tops and evaporate any excess water.
Place an extra pan under the cabbage roll pan because it may boil over. it prevent oven clean up.
Bake these beauties at 375 degrees for at least an hour. or till the internal temperature of the cabbage rolls reaches 180 degrees. Be sure to use a roll from the center of the pan for checking temperature.
Cabbage rolls freeze well. If you choose to freeze them make sure you allow at least 2 to 2+ 1/2 hrs cooking time. and check internal temperature.
These eights also make wonderful gifts for some deserving person or family.
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