About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, May 05, 2006
I can always tell when my wife D is a bit homesick; she starts cooking traditional recipes from Poland. It might be bigos - similar to sauerkraut, kasha (grain) usually buckwheat, or kluski, the generic name for all things dumpling. However when the longing for home calls longest and loudest, a big pot of golabki (pronounced go-wom-key) is sure to make an appearance.

Simply put these are cabbage rolls which are central to the cuisines of Central and Eastern Europe, combining the two most common of ingredients, cabbage and pork, though sometimes other meats are used. Every region has their own twist on the theme, it might be a pinch of paprika here or a bit of onion there, the sauce might be tomato based or sour cream, but no matter what the variation, cabbage rolls provide a strong elemental tug to those who were brought up with them.

In Polish, the name means little pigeons. In Hungary they are called tolltot kaposzta, Russia, golubtsy and in Bulgaria, surmi. No matter what they are called, they are always tasty. The combination of earthy cabbage and sweet pork merges in a yin and yang harmony, that despite its simplicity provides a healthy and satisfying dish.

When D first made them for me, the rolls were quite big, with a large meat to cabbage ratio, but over the years she is making them quite a bit smaller, which gives more satisfaction. The cabbage is just not a wrapper to hold the meat together, it's an integral part of the dish, providing a counterbalancing flavour to the sweetness of the pork.

Cabbage Rolls - Polish Style (Golabki)

1 head of cabbage, Savoy is good
chicken stock or good quality powdered stock
2 onions, finely chopped
50 g (2 oz) butter
1 kg (2 lb) minced ( ground) pork
2 cups half cooked rice
1 egg
salt & pepper

Cut out the core of the cabbage, remove tough outer leaves and reserve and place cabbage in a large pot with the chicken stock and simmer for several minutes. Remove all tender leaves and place cabbage back in the pot and repeat until all leaves are done, including leaves that are too small to roll. Trim the large central vein of the leaves. Reserve chicken stock. Soften onions in the butter and when translucent mix with the pork, rice and egg, season to taste. Take a cabbage leaf and place a handful of meat on the base of the leaf and start to roll, tucking the sides in as you go. When all the meat is used up take some of the unused or tough outer leaves and place in a pot big enough to hold the rolls snugly. Place the rolls on top of the leaves and stack them in layers, no more than three deep, until they are all in the pot. Pour in 2 or 3 cups of the reserved chicken stock and cover the rolls with the rest of the unused leaves. Bake in an oven heated to 180 c (350 f) for 2 hours and leave to rest for thirty minutes before serving with tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce

2 cups reserved chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons potato or corn flour
salt & pepper

Place chicken stock and tomato paste in a pot and add potato flour which has been slaked in a little water. Bring to the boil stirring constantly and season. Simmer for fifteen minutes.

Edited to Add: This post came about because of some chat between Reb at CucinaRebecca and myself. Reb has done a sister post at her site, giving a Mediteranean spin to the theme. I've just eaten a big potful last week, but after looking at her version, I'm lusting after them all over again. Great job Reb!
  posted at 9:26 am

At 4:24 am, Blogger Kitchen Queen said...

That sounds delicious!

At 11:49 am, Blogger Ange said...

Yum I love these & all of the polish recipes you post about. I am a very lazy Polish grand daughter, I have never made these even though I have the recipe - think that needs to change soon, am printing now....

At 2:33 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi kitchen queen, they are pretty good.

Hi ange, you know sometimes I forget about certain recipes, but it is just brilliant when you rediscover them, like a long lost friend.


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