The fantastic Hungarian stuffed cabbage

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A cabbage roll (also stuffed cabbage) is a dish consisting of cooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a variety of fillings. It is common to the ethnic cuisines of Europe and Asia, and has also found popularity in areas of North America settled by Eastern Europeans. In Europe, the filling is traditionally based around meat, often beef, lamb or pork and is seasoned with garlic, onion and spices. Grains such as rice and barley, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables are often included. Pickled cabbage leaves are often used for wrapping, particularly in Southeastern Europe. 

In Hungary cabbage leaves are stuffed with the minced meat filling which are then baked, simmered or steamed in a covered pot and generally eaten warm, often accompanied with a sauce. The sauce varies widely by cuisine. In Eastern Europe, tomato-based sauces or plain sour cream are typical. (In Sweden and sometimes in Finland, stuffed cabbage is served with lingonberry jam, which is both sweet and tart, the Hungarians couldn’t eat it that way). In Lebanon it is a popular plate, where the cabbage is stuffed with rice and minced meat and only rolled to the size of cigar. It is usually served with a side of yogurt and a type of lemon and olive oil vinaigrette seasoned with garlic and dried mint.

When I left my country I couldn’t find the cured cabbage so that I tried to use as a wrapping the Chinese cabbage but the flavor was not the same (pretty insipid) and to make it more sour I flavoured with dill, it was a wow effect.

The recipe: Makes about 18 Hungarian stuffed cabbages or toltott kaposzta

Ingredients:1/4 cup rice, cooked in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes and drained, 1 pound ground pork, 1/2 pound ground chuck, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 finely chopped medium onions, 1 large egg, 1 tablespoon salt or to taste, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoons sweet or hot paprika powder, 1 head cabbage, about 4 pounds, 2 pounds drained sauerkraut (rinsing optional), 1/2 cup tomato juice, 1/2 pound cooked or uncooked smoked pork butt, thinly sliced, 2 tablespoons lard, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup sour cream
Preparation: 1.In a large bowl, thoroughy mix ground pork and beef with garlic, half the chopped onion, egg, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon paprika and drained rice. Set aside.2.Remove core from cabbage. Place whole head in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water. Cover and cook 3 minutes, or until softened enough to pull off individual leaves. You will need about 18 leaves.

3.When leaves are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to cut away the thick center stem from each leaf, without cutting all the way through.

4.Place about 1/2-cup of meat on each cabbage leaf. Roll away from you to encase the meat. Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side. You will have something that looks like an envelope. Once again, roll away from you to create a neat little roll. Cut any remaining cabbage leaves into fine shreds and set aside.

5.Place sauerkraut in a large casserole dish or Dutch oven (about 6 inches high, 16 inches long and 8 to 10 inches wide) and pour tomato juice on top, followed by slices of pork butt and enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook 5 minutes.

6.Place reserved shredded cabbage in casserole. Nestle cabbage rolls in the sauerkraut. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour.

7. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt lard in a small skillet, and add flour and remaining chopped onion to make a roux. Cook slowly for about 10 minutes or until golden yellow. Turn off heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon paprika and 1 cup cold water until smooth.

8. Gently remove the stuffed cabbage from the casserole to a warm platter. Take a ladleful of sauerkraut broth and whip it into the roux. Return this liquid to the main casserole, stirring well. Bring to a boil. Gently replace stuffed cabbages, cover and bake 15 minutes.

9. Mix some of the pan juices with sour cream and pour over the stuffed cabbages when serving.



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