Golubtsi are stuffed cabbage rolls. Growing up, my Nana made them every so often, and we called them “golumpkies” (the Polish pronounciation).
She didn’t made them very often (probably because they take some time to make), but when she did, it was an ‘event’ – people got excited about it… except for me; I never liked them. The smell, the taste – nothing about them appealed to me. I was always much happier with my plate of macaroni and cheese.
Fast forward to a few years ago when I learned that “golumpkies” weren’t just a Polish dish – there was a Russian version as well – “golubtsi”. And it turned out to be one of Stas’ favorites.
The recipe I use comes from my Russian cookbook called “Please to the Table”. The first time I made it, I had my parents and Nana over. I was so nervous for them to turn out well and I recall the process being very long and tedious. The result? My Nana declared them to be the best she has ever tasted! And she loved them enough to rave about them to friends and family.
The second time I made the recipe, I ended up in tears. I had a difficult head of cabbage and could not seem to peel the leaves off without them tearing on me.
By the third time, I had a new plan of attack – instead of taking the leaves off and then boiling them, I boiled the whole head and then peeled. It worked wonders! But it still took a lot of time.
Tonight was my fourth attempt at golubtsi and I think I’ve mastered them. Removing the leaves was a piece of cake, and the whole process took way less time and effort than I remembered.
… all very lucky for Stas because this means I’ll be making them more often!
adapted from “Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook”
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 ounces ground beef
- 6 ounces ground pork
- 1/2 cup *cooked* long-grain rice
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/3 cup canned beef broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Cabbage and Sauce
- 1 large head of green cabbage (you’ll need 10-14 cabbage leaves)
- salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups beef stock
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar
- ground black pepper, to taste
1. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until browned, 8-10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the meats, onion, and remaining stuffing ingredients. Knead until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
3. Place a head of cabbage in a pot of salted boiling water for abot 5 minutes. Remove the head and peel off the whole leaves, one by one. You may need to stick the head of cabbage back in the water as you remove more leaves. Drain the leaves thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
4. Run a sharp knife parallel down the tough center vein of each cabbage length, to thin it. Divide the stuffing into equal portions. Place a portion on the base of each leaf, tuck in the sides, and roll the leaves up, tucking in the sides firmly as you roll.
5. In a large oven-proof casserole or Dutch oven that will accomodate all of the rolls, heat the oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Spread flour on a plate and roll the cabbage rolls in it, then place them in the casserole/Dutch oven, seam side down. Brown the rolls on all sides until deeply colored, about 15 minuts.
just placed into the pan
browned on one side
6. Heat the stock in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the tomato paste, ketchup, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mixture to the casserole. The liquid should cover the rolls completely – if it does not, add more beef stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
after adding the liquid
7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
8. Increase the heat under the casserole to high, uncoverm and let the liquid boil until it is somewhat reduced, about 5 minutes. Place it in the oven and bake, uncovered, until the liquid reduces even further, about 25 minutes.
boiling the liquid
serves 4 to 6
(or if you’re Stas, serves 2!)
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