Cook Lithuanian Stuffed Cabbage

Edited by Timbuktu, Ephraim, Anonymous, Rebecca M. and 3 others

Stuffed cabbage is a favorite dish in many parts of Eastern Europe. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia, and Hungary (to name a few) all have their own versions of this hearty dish. In most cuisines, this dish is made with ground or minced beef or pork, finely chopped onions, and barley or rice. The fist-sized rolls are then baked with tomato sauce in a casserole.

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In many places stuffed cabbage is considered a festive food, and it is served during Christmas dinners, weddings, and family reunions. European Jews traditionally serve cabbage rolls on Simchat Torah, a holiday during which Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and read amid dancing and celebratory singing. The rolls are served with a sauce made from tomatoes and arranged side by side in pairs so that they look like scrolls.

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This dish is generally served warm with a complementing sauce. In Sweden and Finland, it is served with an accompaniment of sweet and tart lingonberry jam, while in Lebanon, the cigar-sized rolls are served with yogurt, and a garlic flavored olive oil and mint vinaigrette. The rolls are also sometimes stuffed with lamb, eggs, mushrooms, and vegetables. In some Asian cuisines, cabbage rolls are prepared with tofu, shitake, and chopped water chestnuts.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole cabbage (a 4-pound cabbage with loosely packed leaves may be easiest to use)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 large carrot, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 large beaten egg
  • Pinch marjoram
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Meat filling:

  • 500 g or 2.1 cups ground meat (beef or pork)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Kucharek seasoning to taste (a seasoning made from various spices and dried vegetables)

Procedure:

  1. 1
    Boil the cabbage in salted water.
    Simmer until the cabbage is softened.{
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  2. 2
    Remove cabbage from pot and cool until you can comfortably handle it.
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  3. 3
    Carefully separate the leaves from the core.
    Remove part of the midrib with a sharp paring knife so that the entire leaf is flexible. Do not cut all the way through ‚Äď keep the leaf intact.
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  4. 4
    Count the leaves and set them aside.
    Chop up the extra leaves of the cabbage and spread them a layer over the bottom of a baking dish or casserole. Boil the rice and set aside.
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  5. 5
    Using medium heat, sauté the chopped onions, garlic, and celery in olive oil.
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  6. 6
    Mix sautéed onions with ground meat, boiled rice, salt, pepper, and kucharek.
    (If you are unable to find kucharek, you can try mixing half a beef bouillon and half a vegetable bouillon.)
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  7. 7
    Apportion the meat mixture so that you have approximately the same amount of stuffing for all the cabbage leaves you have set aside.
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  8. 8
    Place about 1/2 cup of stuffing at the center of leaf.
    Take the part of the leaf nearest you, and fold over the stuffing away from you to cover the meat. Take the right side of the leaf and flip it to the center. Do the same thing with the left side. Your roll will now resemble a packet. Roll over away from you once more to create a nice fat roll.
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  9. 9
    Place rolls seam side down over the layer of chopped cabbage in the saucepan.
    Slice carrots and add to stuffed cabbage. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
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  10. 10
    Combine the beef stock and the tomato sauce.
    Pour mixture over the cabbage rolls, and boil uncovered over medium-high heat. Once the pot is boiling, reduce stove top heat to low.
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  11. 11
    Cover the pot and allow it to simmer for an hour.
    Remove rolls and transfer onto serving casserole dish. Immediately mix sour cream and pan juices. Pour over rolls and serve.
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Variations:

There several ways you can vary the given recipe.

  1. 1
    You can follow the recipe, but as a variation you can add 1 whole chopped bell pepper to the meat mixture.
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  2. 2
    Use marjoram instead of kucharek.
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  3. 3
    For a Bulgarian version, make the meat stuffing from a mixture of veal and pork.
    Season with a little mint and paprika, and add yogurt instead of sour cream to the pan juices.
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  4. 4
    For a Croatian version, add bacon to the meat mixture and boil the cabbage in water with a cup of vinegar to keep them from falling apart.
    Use sauerkraut in the braising liquid; sprinkle each layer with some sauerkraut and bake the rolls for 2 1/2 hours.
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  5. 5
    For a Czech version, add some pork neck bones to your pot and simmer very gently for 3 hours.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings:

  • Remember the cabbage lining. Do not neglect to put a good layer of chopped cabbage at the bottom of the casserole where you will be cooking the cabbage rolls. This will prevent them from getting burned during the long cooking process.
  • Cabbage rolls keep well. You can keep them in the refrigerator for two days or freeze them for a week.
  • These are good with either mashed potatoes or noodles. They are also good with warm, crusty bread.
  • They make delicious appetizers. Make them in small sausage shapes, cook them until they are on the dry side, and serve as a hearty appetizer.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Ethnic Foods

Recent edits by: Eng, Nerissa Avisado, Rebecca M.

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