Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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Here is another one of my favorite Polish dishes to eat (and now make!) I taught myself this past year how to make all my favorite Polish dishes now that I no longer live at home. I figured instead of waiting for the holidays when my grandpa makes a lot of these traditional dishes, I would learn myself so I could have them whenever I had a craving (or missed my grandma). Have your tried my potato dumplings yet?

Turns out, they aren’t as difficult as I assumed they would be! I should’ve known because my grandmother used to always tell me about the limited ingredients they had in Poland during the war and how they basically had to get creative and make up recipes with whatever ingredients they could find. Potatoes, for instance were not rationed and one of the foods that was easier to find. I have been doing some research into pre-war Polish dishes and want to be able to re-create as many of these as I can. I think it’s important to salvage the history of such a beautiful country that although was occupied by so many other countries, still has its own unique style and cultures. In general, people would pick and eat whatever they could find. When there was no tea, they used linden flowers. When all they had was stale bread, they made cutlets out of it. They substituted sugar with saccharine (which was illegal before the war!). I am realizing now that my impromptu style of cooking originated from my grandmother and growing up watching her cook and bake. She would just substitute things to make it work and that is pretty much what I find myself doing all the time. SO, this stuffed cabbage dish (Gołąbki  (gaw-WOHMP-kee)) can be made with whatever ingredients you have handy (or lucky us, can go and buy at the grocery store). I have had these before with green cabbage, savoy cabbage and red cabbage, but any cabbage with decent size leaves will do. I have also had this with different fillings: beef and pork with barley and mushrooms, ground chicken and brown rice, kidney beans or any kind of bean and rice for a vegetarian option, and the one I made here for Thanksgiving: white ground turkey with jasmine rice and mushrooms.

The toppings I like the best are melted butter or some tomato sauce, but the best is when we have these at Thanksgiving and have some gravy with them — yum!

These can easily be made vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

img_28562Remove the core of the cabbage by chipping away at it in a circular motion with a sharp paring knife.
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Insert a long handled roasting fork into the center of the cored cabbage (this will facilitate easier handling when moving the cabbage around). Immerse the cabbage into simmering salted water and cook for 5-7 minutes until a few of the cabbage leaves start to separate from the cabbage head. Carefully, with a kitchen tong, remove any of the cooked leaves to a colander to thoroughly drain, and continued the process until all leaves are cooked. Drain and cool completely. 
img_277722Heat some oil in a small skillet over medium heat, and add the garlic and onion (& mushrooms, if using) and cook until slightly softened and golden.img_27802Remove each layer of cabbage leaves and make some piles of the “good” equal size leaves and another for the smaller pieces.img_278322Make sure the rice and sauteed vegetables cooled down completely (place in freezer for a few minutes) and mix with the remaining ingredients- meat, egg, salt and pepper, tomato sauce, if using.
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Remove any hard leaf stems that would impair easy rolling. Place flatly on a clean work surface.Depending on leaf size, place 1-3 tablespoons of filling at the base of the cabbage leaf.img_279422Fold the bottom of the leaf over the filling.img_280222Then fold in the sides toward the center.
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Roll tightly into a bundle and place, seam down into a medium sized shallow casserole dish. 222img_283122

Place in casserole dish atop any left over cabbage leaves.  I use some of the extra cabbage to cover them especially if some of them broke during rolling. Pour a couple tablespoons of water over them and cover with foil. Poke the foil in a few spots with a fork and bake in preheated 350 degree for about 1hr and 30  minutes.
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Enjoy as is, with some melted butter, tomato sauce or Thanksgiving day gravy!img_286522

Stuffed Cabbage (Golapki)
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large head cabbage
  2. 1 tablespoon sea salt
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1 small onion, finely diced
  6. 3-4 white button mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  7. 1/2 lb ground lean white turkey
  8. 1/4 lb ground dark turkey*
  9. 1/2 cup rice, pre-cooked and cooled (or barley)
  10. 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  11. 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  12. 1 large organic egg
  13. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  14. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. In large stockpot, bring water and salt to a boil, then reduce heat to a bubbling simmer.
  2. Working carefully, remove the core from the cabbage with a sharp paring knife.
  3. Immerse the cabbage into the simmering water and cook for 5-7 minutes until a few leaves from the cabbage head start to separate. Drain and cool completely.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  5. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat, and add garlic, onion and mushrooms, if using. Cook stirring until slightly softened and golden. Remove the vegetables to a bowl, and place in the freezer to quickly cool for about 5 minutes.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients (including chilled vegetables) and gently using a wooden spoon, blend the mixture thoroughly.
  7. Pick through the cabbage leaves, selecting the equal sizes pieces and after removing the hard stem leaf, roll tightly.
  8. Place in casserole dish, add a little bit of water (some people add tomato sauce and cook it this way- my family never has, but you can try it this way too) and cover with foil, piercing a few holes with a fork for air.
  9. Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours or until cooked.
Notes
  1. * Use whatever meaty ingredient you want - beans, turkey, chicken, beef, pork. You can use the same meat or mix white and dark turkey with chicken or beef with pork.
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