Another simple but comforting Russian recipe – cabbage rolls stuffed with a meat-and-rice filling. Cabbage has enormous health benefits and I think is underused in Western cooking. Normally, regular cabbage is used for this recipe but for some reason Savoy looked good to me the day I made these, so I went with Savoy. I liked the results – more tender but somehow more flavorful, also.
Every Russian cook makes these a little differently. One of my grandmothers sautés tomatoes, onions and green peppers for the sauce. Some people add carrots to the mix. I did not have that luxury of time, since, as usual, was making dinner after getting home from work and these can be time-consuming. So, I just used canned crushed tomatoes (although you could also use a canned tomato-and-green pepper mix). With a bit of fresh dill and dollop of sour cream, they were just as good.
Golubtsy — Cabbage Rolls
This makes about 4 servings
1 large head of cabbage
1 can of crushed/stewed tomatoes
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 small white onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
2 cups water or broth of your choice
To start, slice the stem off the head of cabbage and then boil the whole cabbage in salted water for about 20 minutes or until the leaves start to look translucent and soft. Take it out and let it drain and cool off while you mix the meat, rice, onion, salt, pepper, and half of the dill for the filling.
Now start to separate the leaves from the cabbage, gently, trying to keep each leaf whole as much as possible. Set a leaf on a flat surface, stem-side down. Place a spoon full of filling in the center of the leaf, and start rolling up from the bottom, then fold in the sides, and finish rolling up like a burrito.
Place the prepared rolls inside a pot, folded side down, and try to nestle them tightly together. Depending on the size of your pot, you could have one or two layers of cabbage rolls. On top of the first layer, spread a half a can of the crushed tomatoes. Do the same with the second layer, if you have one. Scatter the bay leaves on top of the rolls or wedge in between them. Now add enough water or broth to just barely cover the rolls. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low for another 30 minutes or longer, if you have the time – the longer you cook the golubtsy, the more tender the cabbage will be.