Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or ‘golubtsy’ (“go-lub-tzy”), how we call them back home is one of the most authentic and popular dishes. However, there are many interpretations of this dish (using different fillings, types of meat, cabbage, sauce, etc) in many other countries-Russia, Turkey, Israel, Greece, Armenia, Poland, etc. This dish originated from the idea of using up the leftovers and that means that it is very adaptable to incorporate whatever food you have to hand. The only thing, at home only white cabbage is normally used for this dish, but I found white cabbage in UK is very different to the one we have at home (it is much smaller, tighter, hence it is difficult to separate the leaves and leaves are not as flavoursome), so like many people, I opted for Savoy cabbage instead, which is also perfect.
STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS (GOLUBTSY)
1-2 Savoy cabbage heads (depends on the size of the cabbage. I used two).
Note on the cabbage: I also tried using a few leaves of Pointed Cabbage (you will see on a photo), but I can conclude now that it also worked but I still prefer Savoy cabbage.
For the sauce:
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cans chopped tomatoes in their juice
2 tablespoons sugar
50ml red wine (optional)
salt & pepper
For the filling:
500g beef mince
600g pork mince
1/2 cup of uncooked rice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped herbs (parsley/thyme)
1.5 teaspoons salt
0.5 teaspoon pepper
1. Start with preparing sauce first. Heat up the olive oil in a large pan, add chopped onion, cook it until soft. Add tinned tomatoes, sugar, wine, salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, make sure it’s seasoned well, cover with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, set it aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare the cabbage by carefully, with a paring knife, removing the core of the cabbage. (Don’t worry if it’s not accurate, ass long as you managed to remove most of the hardest part of the core, it’ll help you to separate the leaves). Then place the prepared cabbage head into the water for a 4-5 minutes at least, or until you are able to peel off the leaves one by one, using tongs (or you might find it is easier to use fork and knife). Set the leaves aside. Depending on the size of your cabbage, you will need approximately 14-16 leaves.
3. Preheat the oven to 170C and make the filling. For the filling simply combine the beef mince, pork mince, beaten eggs, chopped onion, rice(uncooked), herbs, salt and pepper, add 1 cup of the prepared tomato sauce and mix it all lightly using a fork.
4. To assemble, place 1 cup tomato mixture in bottom of prepared baking dish (preferably heavy bottom/cast iron dish/Dutch oven). Take the cabbage leaf, carefully, with the small knife, remove the hard triangle rib from the base of each cabbage leaf. Then place few tablespoons of filling in the middle near to the rib edge of the leaf and roll up towards the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll, forming the sort of parcel shape. Continue the same with the rest of the leaves and filling. Them place half of the rolls on the bottom of the dish seam side down, cover with few cups of sauce, then layer of rolls and finish with the rest of the sauce. Cover the dish with the lid and bake for an hour and a half or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender. Serve it hot on its own or with roasted potatoes, or at home we used to eat it with rye bread and dollop of soured cream.
And, I have to apologise for the absence of the photos with the end of process, as in a moment of haste, I managed to delete them somehow. So, I have to turn to the good old Google and found THIS for you, to see the finished result.