Stuffed Cabbage


When I was little, we celebrated Christmas Day with our Hungarian side of the family. I remember beautiful decorations, gifts, and of course, fantastic food. There were lots of sweets, meats, pickled vegetables, and my favorite, a big pot of Stuffed Cabbage. The Cabbage leaves were filled with a mixture of meat, onions, and seasonings and then carefully rolled into neat packages. The rolls are layered in a pot filled with sauerkraut, tomato sauce, and smoked pork then simmered until tender and delicious. Stuffed Cabbage is one of those dishes that is truly a labor of love to prepare and to share. These are best when made in advance and then reheated.


Ingredients for Stuffed Cabbage:

yields 16 large cabbage rolls


2 pounds ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 large head of cabbage or 2 smaller ones, 6 1/2 pounds

2 cups reserved cabbage water

40 ounces tomato sauce

1/2-1 pound smoked pork butt, sliced

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup uncooked rice

2 tablespoons Hungarian Sweet Paprika

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 pounds sauerkraut, drained

kosher salt

black pepper


Time-Saving Tip: Prepared and cook the Stuffed Cabbage up to two days in advance.


Let's see what we need.


We're ready to cook.



Cut out as much of the core of the cabbage as possible. Boil the cabbage in a large pot of water. As the outer leaves become tender, gently remove them and transfer them to a dish. Continue this cooking process until you are left with a small portion of the cabbage and transfer it to a cutting board. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid.


Cut out large veins of the cabbage, if any.


Combine the sauce and reserved cabbage water; set aside.



Saute the chopped onion in a tablespoon of oil until translucent; set aside.









Combine the meat, paprika, parsley, onion, garlic, eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper; add the rice and mix well.


Making stuffed cabbage isn't always an exact count of rolls. I had one large head of cabbage and was able to pull off 16 leaves. I like to portion out the meat before I start making the rolls, so I made 16 1/2 cup "meatballs" for the rolls. If you have two smaller heads of cabbage, you might have more leaves, and the amount of filling will have to be adjusted. Place a cabbage leaf on a flat surface and add a portion of the meat and shape it into a log. Fold the cabbage over the meat, starting with the cut end and tuck the ends below the cabbage. Repeat the process until all of the rolls are made. Chop the small chunk of cabbage.


Pour a little sauce on the bottom of a large pot. Add some of the cut-up cabbage, sauerkraut, and a layer of rolls. Top the rolls with sauerkraut and pork. Continue layering until all of the rolls have been transferred to the pot. End with a layer of sauerkraut and pork; pour the sauce mixture on top and sprinkle with extra paprika.


Bring the cabbage to a boil and then cover. Transfer the pot to a preheated 325-degree oven; bake for a couple of hours until the cabbage is tender. Check periodically and add more water as needed. The cabbage can also be cooked on the stove. Ideally, this is made in advance, so once the cabbage is cooked, let cool and refrigerate.


To serve, I like to transfer the cabbage to a casserole. I first spread the sauerkraut on the bottom of the dish and layer the cabbage on top. Pour any remaining liquid over the rolls and cover with foil. Reheat in a 325 oven until hot.


It's ready! Stuffed Cabbage is comfort food at its best and is so delicious. I serve it with rye bread and butter. This Hungarian favorite is perfect for the holiday season and chilly winter nights.


Enjoy!


Stuffed Cabbage:

yields 16 large cabbage rolls

  • 2 pounds ground beef

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 1 large head of cabbage or 2 smaller ones, 6 1/2 pounds

  • 2 cups reserved cabbage water

  • 40 ounces tomato sauce

  • 1/2-1 pound smoked pork butt, sliced

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice

  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian Sweet Paprika

  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 2 pounds sauerkraut, drained

  • kosher salt

  • black pepper

  • Cut out as much of the core of the cabbage as possible. Boil the cabbage in a large pot of water. As the outer leaves become tender, gently remove them and transfer them to a dish. Continue this cooking process until you are left with a small portion of the cabbage and transfer it to a cutting board. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

  • Cut out large veins of the cabbage, if any.

  • Combine the sauce and reserved cabbage water; set aside.

  • Saute the chopped onion in a tablespoon of oil until translucent; set aside.

  • Combine the meat, paprika, parsley, onion, garlic, eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper; add the rice and mix well.

  • Making stuffed cabbage isn't always an exact count of rolls. I had one large head of cabbage and was able to pull off 16 leaves. I like to portion out the meat before I start making the rolls, so I made 16 1/2 cup "meatballs" for the rolls. If you have two smaller heads of cabbage, you might have more leaves, and the amount of filling will have to be adjusted. Place a cabbage leaf on a flat surface and add a portion of the meat and shape it into a log. Fold the cabbage over the meat, starting with the cut end and tuck the ends below the cabbage. Repeat the process until all of the rolls are made. Chop the small chunk of cabbage.

  • Pour a little sauce on the bottom of a large pot. Add some of the cut-up cabbage, sauerkraut, and a layer of rolls. Top the rolls with sauerkraut and pork. Continue layering until all of the rolls have been transferred to the pot. End with a layer of sauerkraut and pork; pour the sauce mixture on top and sprinkle with extra paprika.

  • Bring the cabbage to a boil and then cover. Transfer the pot to a preheated 325-degree oven; bake for a couple of hours until the cabbage is tender. Check periodically and add more water as needed. The cabbage can also be cooked on the stove. Ideally, this is made in advance, so once the cabbage is cooked, let cool and refrigerate.

  • To serve, I like to transfer the cabbage to a casserole. I first spread the sauerkraut on the bottom of the dish and layer the cabbage on top. Pour any remaining liquid over the rolls and cover with foil. Reheat in a 325 oven until hot.

  • Time-Saving Tip: Prepared and cook the Stuffed Cabbage up to two days in advance.

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