Last night I made Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (golabki). Ever since I gave Chris a copy of the CIA’s Professional Chef, that recipe (and accompanying photo) have been on our short list of things to try. Since I had the afternoon, I decided to see if they were as cool as they looked. The verdict-pretty much, but will be improved in future iterations. As a side note-this is a halved recipe from what appears in the Chef. This made about 10 rolls, which comes out to 2 per serving. It’s a fairly easily scaled recipe, so you can make what you need. This is recipe as I made it, which include some modifications from the original (no meat grinder).
1 head savoy cabbage, leaves separated (you’ll want at least 2 large leaves per roll, so plan accordingly)
12 oz ground pork (or 6 pork, 6 veal if you can find it)
6 oz ground beef (90-95% lean, if you can)
2 tsp Polish sausage seasoning (I used Krakow Nights from Penzey’s)
1 tsp ground horseradish
10 oz small diced onion, sauteed and cooled
4 fl oz heavy cream (1/2 cup for volumetric folks)
3 oz bread crumbs
6 oz mirepoix (for this, equal carrot, onion celery, small diced)
~2 cups beef stock (to partly cover assembled rolls)
1.5 tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion
1 small can (15 oz) tomato puree
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup sour cream
Cook onion for rolls, set aside to cool. Meanwhile, bring large pot of water to a boil and cook cabbage. Drain and rinse, trying not to tear the leaves. Remove ribs and set aside. Add meats to a stand mixer and mix together on low. Add onion. Add cream and egg, let combine (it will be soft-that’s ok). Add breadcrumbs and seasonings. At this point, it may be good to stick this in the fridge and make sure it’s nice and cool before making the rolls.
When you’re ready to assemble, get a 1-1.5 ft square piece of cheesecloth and an 8 oz round bowl. Place the cheesecloth in the bottom of the bowl. Take two cabbage leaves and place them in the bowl so they overlap by about an inch at the base of the bowl. Fill the leaves with about a racquetball sized amount of the sauce mix. Fold the cabbage leaves over the meat. Twist the cheesecloth to make the roll form a sphere, and to help ensure the cabbage is closed around it. Have ready a stove and oven safe braising pan (or large covered skilled that is oven safe). Place the mirepoix in the bottom of the pan, and place the rolls on top of the mirepoix, seam side down. Repeat with the rolls until you’ve used all your meat mixture. Then, pour stock into the pan until it comes half way up the rolls. Add bay leaf, and place bacon, if using, over the tops of the rolls. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring stock to a boil over medium heat on the stove top. Once it’s boiling, place rolls in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until internal temp hits 160 degrees.
While this is cooking, you can prepare the tomato sauce. Mince onion and saute in butter until starting to turn golden. Add tomato puree, adding water as needed to maintain consistency. Bring to simmer. Add 1 tsp aleppo, or more to taste, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder (again, to taste). Salt to taste as well. Keep warm until rolls are done. Once rolls are done, stir in sour cream.
Plate the sauce first, then the rolls on top of it. We served with mashed potatoes as well.
As you can see in the photo, we served the tomato sauce and sour cream separately, but after dinner, decided to make a sour cream-tomato sauce instead, which we both agree is a big improvement.
Overall, not a perfect first outing for the recipe, but certainly a keeper, and one I look forward to trying again. Despite the long and complicated sounded method, it’s really pretty straightforward, and could be an outstanding dinner party offering, as it can be made ahead and easily scaled to the group being served.