Sorry for completely disappearing on ya! Hopefully you follow me on Facebook and saw that I announced I would take a little break from blogging and weren’t surprised to keep seeing those delicious looking chocolate covered cheesecake lollipops every time you loaded the page. For over a month. But anyways, this whole hot and cold act I’ve been putting on with this blog is going to stop because I quit my day job last week (today is actually my very first day “off”) which means a lot more cooking. And blogging. And sharing. I hope you’re as excited as I am. Yay for more Russian treats!!
Speaking of sharing, I received 2 emails from 2 different Elinas in the last 2 months. I’ve never ever met another Elina before (and yes, Elina and Elena are two different names!) – let alone 2- so this is exciting. What’s even more exciting – my fellow Elinas love Eastern European food as much as I do and they’ve been sharing some favorite recipes of their own. Sharing is pretty awesome!
One of these recipes was for golubtsi (meat stuffed cabbage leaves) which I haven’t had in ages. These are pretty popular all over Eastern Europe with each region having a slightly different take on the dish. In Moldova (where I’m from), stuffed grape leaves were also popular – which are also called golubtsi and have the same exact filling (they’re not like the Greek dolma which are mostly rice)… and I’m now discovering pickled cabbage leaves were also quite famous. I’ve never actually had that version but am thoroughly intrigued. Maybe there will be a part II to this post in the future
Ok, so let’s talk golubtsi. These little guys are stuffed with meat, rice, garlic, shredded tomato (for moistness) and simmered slowly in a creamy tomato sauce. They’re adorable. And I’m going to be honest, a pain in the ass to make! You see, my head of cabbage was pretty tight and after the top few leaves came off, the rest really didn’t want to go without tearing. I had to re-steam it several times with a few top leaves loosening, then doing it again. And then I’d get frustrated and accidently poke holes in the leaves once rolling. I almost gave up taking pictures mid-way, figuring it’s just too much work for you to make. But… but… at the end, none of these little mishaps really mattered because once you sear the leaves they hold shape. And better yet, the end result was delicious! Adam isn’t a fan of cabbage but gobbled up quite a few for lunch yesterday and was happy to take more to work today. If you’ve got time and feeling calm, I say this is a great dish to make over a weekend and share with company.
Printer friendly-recipe (Adopted from a reader Elina)
Ingredients (makes approx. 20 rolls):
- 3/4lbs ground beef
- 1 cabbage
- 1 tomato, shredded
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup uncooked rice (I used brown)
- 2 minced garlic cloves, divided
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
- 2 cups chicken broth, divided
- salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of olive or canola oil
Steam cabbage, whole (if your steamer doesn’t fit the cabbage, boil the whole cabbage head for a few minutes). This will loosen the leaves from the core as well as will make them flexible enough to work with.
Combine beef, shredded tomato, egg, rice and 1 minced garlic clove + salt & pepper (I typically use 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to 1lb of meat).
Once cabbage leaves are steamed (they should visibly start coming off the core), carefully separate the leaves from the core and blot with paper towels.
It’s time to roll the golubtsi! Place approx. 2 tablespoons of meat mixture on the base of the cabbage leaf (leaving a bit of a border), the roll towards the outside of the leaf, tucking in sides. Leave approx. 1 golubtsi-worth of meat mixture "naked."
Heat oil on medium high in a large dutch oven. Place golubtsi seam side down and brown lightly on all sides. If the golubtsi don’t all fit in one layer, do this in several batches.
Whisk together tomato paste, sour cream, 1/2 cup chicken broth, remaining garlic, salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Return all rolls (as well as a little ball of meat mixture) to the dutch oven, cover with creamy tomato sauce. Add chicken broth until all rolls are fully covered in liquid.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 60-120 minutes until the rice is ready (I used brown rice so it took longer). The little "meat ball" is your tester for doneness (you’ll see if the rice still looks crunchy and don’t be afraid to taste it… the meat will cook a lot faster than the rice so it will be safe to taste).
You worked hard – enjoy your fruits of labor!