Did I tell you that for two years, we lived in Gdansk Poland?
Two years of learning & loving a culture, people, language, and food.
My favorite? Pierogi stuffed with potatoes and cheese? Pickles pulled from big wooden barrels by hefty Polish hands? Or sauerkraut from a 2nd barrel? (I'd buy a kilo every few days!) Or was it the golobki - aka stuffed cabbage rolls? Well I can NEVER name a favorite food because I like so many things. I'm a foodie through and through! But for the sake of sharing a beloved family favorite with you, today- my favorite is golobki.
I've developed this recipe from a classic one in an old Polish cookbook I have, with a few of my own modifications, and a magic step that sets these apart. Yah. That's how I roll. (corny pun intended)
One more thing... sadly, the above picture is as far as I got in capturing my recent golobki making. This is before the smothering in a rich sauce and baking in the oven. I have nothing, to show you the final glory. the beauty. Sorry! I just got so excited and we ate them and yah... next time I'll take pics of the end product and update this post.
1 large or 2 medium heads of green cabbage, remove the outer wilted or icky leaves.
about 1/2 cup butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped, (divided in half)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground pork OR Italian sausage
1 to 1.5 cups of cooked white rice
1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper (approx)
1/4 - 1/3 cup fresh parsley and/or thyme, finely chopped, (or use 2-3 Tbs. dried)
(- you may also want to try these with some Italian herbs like basil, oregano)
3 1/2 cups beef broth
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 cup tomato sauce (or a little less tomato paste)
salt and pepper
a splash of balsamic vinegar
Here we go:
(Set up really helps)
Get a large pot of salted water, boiling.
have a large colander set over large bowl, next to the stove. Also grab some tongs
- Use a sharp knife and cut out the core of the cabbage.
- carefully put the cored cabbage into the pot of boiling water & push it down to submerge it. Cook for several minutes. As the outer leaves begin to loosen and wilt, remove them carefully with tongs, setting them into the colander set over bowl, catching the drips. You’ll continue to gently pull of leaves and drain them until you get to the small inner leaves which really don’t work for the golobki. :(
- Now in a small skillet, melt 2-3 Tbs. butter 1then add HALF of the chopped onions. Saute’ over medium heat until softening nicely & beginning to turn golden, then add the minced garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, in large bowl combine the ground beef, pork or sausage, rice, salt & pepper, herbs & cooled onions. Mix these well using your hands or if you’re like some people I know and hate to touch raw meat, a Kitchen Aide mixer with dough hook does a great job.
- Take a cabbage leaf and lay it out flat, with the thick rib/spine part facing up. Use a paring knife and carefully trim the thick stem. This will make it much easier to roll your cabbage.
- Turn it over and place a scoop of the meat mixture onto the cabbage leaf near the base, (2-4 Tbs. of filling)
- Fold the base end up, just over the meat, then fold both sides in towards the center, then tightly roll the cabbage up towards the top of the leaf. Be sure you’re completely enclosing the filling.
* If you’re using a leaf that is smaller and harder to do this with, I’ve found that I can overlap two smaller leaves by an inch or two, to create a “bigger” one.
- Set the filled rolls, seam side down in an oblong baking dish, (you’ll probably need 2). Continue filling rolls till you’re done.
- Preheat your oven now, to 325*
In a large skillet, melt 2-3 Tbs. butter. When bubbling, carefully set some filled rolls into the skillet, (seam side down) and cook until brown, then carefully turn over to brown on the other side. Put them back into the oblong pan and continue with more butter and brown the rest of the cabbage rolls. (about 4-5 minutes per side) This step is where the magic begins! It adds gorgeous browned butter flavor and sets the stage for a rich sauce!
(And from this point on I do not have pictures for you... sorry! I know! Trust me... they are gorgeous and delicious! I'll add pics next time I make them... I promise.)
In the same skillet - in the drippings, melt more butter (2-4 Tbs.) and when bubbling, add the other half of your chopped onions., cooking until soft and almost golden. (I’ve added more minced garlic here too, but not necessary)
- Add a couple Tbs. of cornstarch & mix well. Add the beef broth, stirring to incorporate and let it simmer and thicken a bit. Add the tomato sauce (or a little tomato paste will work), & continue cooking a couple more minutes. I add a little salt & pepper and a splash or two of balsamic vinegar. Once it thickens a bit, pour it over your lovely golobki. They will be so thankful for the warm, savory sauce to soak in!
- Cover with foil & pop them into the oven and cook for about 45-60 minutes. They should be fork tender when pierced through.
(Polish for Enjoy your meal!)