This is the variation that keeps Grandpa J happy. He doesn’t like too much messing around with the basics.
There are several variations with a “sweet and sour” tomato sauce, and my Mom took it upon herself to “jazz” up a “sweet and sour” version even more by adding bottled barbeque sauce to the sauce.
I had a Ukrainian school chum over and my mom dished up her “jazzed up” version of Golabki. The look of horror on his face was priceless.
Anyways, this is pretty much a standard no-frills version. I don’t pre-cook the rice; I use long grain parboiled rice. I will often serve with perogies and a salad, or if it’s really cold outside, a nice thick pureed winter vegetable soup.
1 head of green cabbage
1 lb lean ground pork
1 lb lean ground turkey or chicken
2 dry measure cups of uncooked long grain parboiled rice, unrinsed.
1 large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 large (14 oz) can tomato sauce
1 large onion, peeled
dried parsley or very finely diced fresh
sour cream (optional)
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots (optional)
Set up two medium sized mixing bowls, whatever pan you are going to bake the cabbage rolls in (I used the crockpot), and a large pot filled with boiling water on the stovetop for blanching the cabbage leaves.
In the “meat” bowl, finely grate about 1/2 of the onion. Coarsely chop the remainder of the onion and put in the “sauce” bowl.
To the “sauce” bowl, add the can of diced tomatoes and the can of tomato sauce. (Stewed tomatoes, crushed with a potato masher are a nice variation). I also used up some tomato paste that was hanging around in the fridge. Season with a generous helping of chopped garlic, about 1 tsp of powdered garlic, 1 tbsp of dry oregano, 1 tsp of paprika, sea salt and pepper to taste, and a generous “glug” of red wine and olive oil. Stir thoroughly to blend; allow flavors to marry while you are making the cabbage rolls.
In the “meat” bowl, add to the grated onion a generous tbsp of chopped garlic, 1 tsp of powdered garlic, 1 tbsp of dried oregano, 1 tbsp of dried parsley or very finely chopped fresh parsley, sea salt and pepper to taste. Add the 2 cups of rice, and both meats. Mix together thoroughly.
Core the cabbage and place core side down in the pot of boiling water on the stove. As leaves begin to blanch, remove cabbage from hot water.
Peel a few softened cabbage leaves away gently so they don’t rip. Remove a portion of the spine about 1/3 of the way up the softened leaf (eyeball it).
Roll a meatball-sized portion of the ground meat/rice mixture and shape into a “log”. Place in the cabbage roll just above where the spine has been cut away and removed. Fold the left and right side of the cabbage leaf over the meat. Then start rolling the cabbage up from the bottom where the spine has been removed, making a neat package. Once you get this technique mastered, you won’t need to use toothpicks, as the cabbage rolls will stay rolled up on their own. My 12 year old is an expert cabbage roller and has this technique down.
Put the cabbage head back into hot water to blanch more leaves. Keep blanching, rolling, etc until all the meat/rice mixture has been used up.
Then slice the remaining cabbage into thin ribbons. Sprinkle on the bottom of the crockpot or baking dish. Start to layer the cabbage rolls in the pot on top of the bed of shredded cabbage.
At this point, if desired, sprinkle the tops of the cabbage rolls with the shredded carrot to add color and interest.
Since I do not precook the rice, I take about 2 – 3 cups of the hot cabbage water used to blanch the cabbage and add it to the sauce to thin it out. The rice will absorb alot of water as it cooks.
Pour the thinned tomato sauce mixture all over the cabbage rolls.
Cover and cook in the crockpot on high until the sauce is hot, then reduce to low and simmer for 4 – 5 hrs or bake covered in the oven at 350 F for about 1 1/2 hours.
Serve with sour cream (optional).