Polish cabbage rolls - Gołąbki...

Golabki is a dish that's very popular in Poland and it's also one of the most favourite in my family. It's not difficult at all, but a little time consuming (mainly with forming the rolls), then all you have to do is to cook it.
The taste, the final result is really very good reason for all that rolling ;) They are great with mashed potatoes and thick, velvety tomato sauce. You can use raw meat, like myself, but I know that many Polish families will use cooked meat - from making a broth etc., hence making golabki very budget friendly dinner. I've also learned that serving golabki with mashed potatoes and tomato sauce - and I really don't know any other way - is really "my family thing", though popular with others too. You can serve them on its own - as you have all "ingredients" of a fully balanced dinner already there: meat, rice and veg ;) Personally I think that simple, plain tomato sauce gives it another dimension, and its acidity goes really well with delicate cabbage.

"Gołąbki [ɡɔˈwɔmpki] are a form of cabbage rolls. They are a traditional Polish dish consisting of boiled cabbage leaves stuffed with ground beef, chopped onions and rice or barley; most often baked and refried in a spicy tomato sauce. Gołąbki means pigeons (this refers to the shape of the roll; none of the ingredients have any connection with the pigeon meat known as squab).
Gołąbki rolls are usually fist-sized when fully stuffed or rolled. Spiced Pork is sometimes used instead of, or in addition to, beef. There is an unverified story or myth that the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Casimir IV Jagiellon fed his army with gołąbki before a key battle of the Thirteen years' war outside of Marienburg Castle (Malbork) against the Teutonic Order around 1465. Polish rumor has it, that victory over the Teutonic Order was partially credited to strength of the hearty meal of gołąbki given to the allied Polish and Prussian troops. The castle was not conquered, though, but turned over later." - by Wikipedia.org

How to make it...
- 1 big savoy cabbage
- 500 g minced pork (or 250 g minced beef + 250 g minced pork)
- 1 big onion, finely diced
- 1 whole egg
- 1 cup boiled rice
- salt, pepper to taste

Put the whole cabbage into a big pot and cover with boiling water (but do not boil the cabbage!) and leave for few minutes. You want the leaves to soften and make it easy to work with them.
Mix the minced pork and beef (if using) with rice, egg, onion, salt, pepper and mix well together (I found it some time ago that it's best to use your hands for that job).
Separate the leaves from the 'head' of the cabbage, trying not to tear them, and place them on a bog plate. Take a bit of the meat mixture (depending on the size of the leaf, it's best to use a spoon for that) place the meat on the bottom end of the leaf and fold to form a little parcel.

Continue until you run out of the meat mixture and the cabbage leaves. You will be left with some small leaves, that won't be good for making golabki, so just fry them quickly in a little but of butter - everything gets used here!

Take a big, tall pot and arrange a layer of those small fried leaves at the very bottom - this will prevent golabki from sticking to the pot. Layer your rolled golabki, making sure you put them in very tight. Pour water over the cabbage rolls to cover them completely, not over, but just so they're all immersed in it. Cook golabki over a medium heat for minimum 1 hour - meat has to be cooked right through and cabbage leaves soft.

Tip: If you're not sure about the meat mixture being seasoned properly, take a little pan and fry tiny burger and try before even forming golabki (1 tablespoon amount of the meat will be more than enough). That way you'll know straight away if you need to add salt or pepper, or maybe you'll want more onion in yours. It's really a good idea and saves your golabki from turning out bland.


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