My mother is a fabulous cook. Her mother was a fabulous cook, so I have heard. I never actually met my grandmother except for once when I was about seven years old. She came to the United States from Austria, and lived in a Polish neighborhood in Detroit. I am told that she made the best golumpki that was ever put into a mouth. To explain what golumpki is, if you don’t know, according to wikipedia:
Gołąbki[ɡɔˈwɔmpki] (also known as Golumpki in the United States ) is a cabbage roll common in Polish cuisine made from lightly soft boiled cabbage leaves wrapped around minced pork or beef, chopped onions, and rice or barley baked in a casserole dish in a tomato sauce.
Gołąbki is the plural of gołąbek, the diminutive of gołąb, meaning “pigeon“, referring to the fist-sized or smaller roll’s shape.
The recipe for Golumpki has been passed down from generation to generation in my family, and has been one of the dishes my mother served for as long as I can remember. My mother’s recipe was featured in the local electric company monthly magazine as the winner of the recipe of the month once.
There was a story my father always told when we had golumpki for dinner: When he and my mother were dating, her sister Helen was dating my uncle George. One night my father and George were invited to dinner by my grandmother. During the meal, while George was shoveling in the golumpki, my grandfather asked him, “You like Schnapps, George?” and George answered “Yes, they are delicious!”. My mother and her sisters giggled hysterically at George’s gaffe.
The other day when I was visiting Mama at the rehab facility they brought in her lunch. The food there is not so good. It’s like most other institutional food, it is just food, and most times tastes bland. Mama told me she couldn’t wait until she could go home and make a pot of stuffed cabbage. I told her I would make some for her. That was a pretty big promise on my part, as I have never made them myself. I have Mama’s recipe in a handwritten cookbook she made several years ago, but I have never gotten up the nerve to make it before today.
I found that the hardest part of making golumpki is getting the cabbage ready. To do that, you take off the large outer leaves and set them aside. Then, take a small sharp knife, and cut out the core, being careful not to damage any of the leaves. After you have done this, place the whole cabbage in a large pot of boiling water, and as the outer leaves soften up, peel them off and lay them aside. This process is slow, and I found that it was easier to handle the cabbage if I stuck a large meat fork in it in the hole where I took out the core.
After all the leaves have been separated, use a small sharp knife to cut off the hard thick part of the stem near the base of each leaf. Be careful not to slice too much of and leave a hole in the leaf. While you are doing all this, bring a small pot of water to a boil, then add in 1/2 cup of long grain rice. Let the rice boil in the water for about two minutes, then strain off the water and set aside.
Now that your cabbage and rice are prepared, you can mix up the filling. Just put all the ingredients in a large bowl, and mix it up with your hands. When it is mixed well, you are ready to start rolling!
Take one cabbage leaf, hold it in your hand with the straight edge where it was attached to the core at your wrist, and place a small handful of filling in the cup of the leaf. Fold over the straight edge toward the center of the leaf, covering the filling.
Second, fold the right side of the leaf over towards the left.
Third, fold the left edge over to the right.
Last, fold the ends under tightly. Place the completed cabbage roll fold side down in a large pot or dutch oven that has a lid.
Continue filling the cabbage leaves until they are all done. When you have covered the bottom of the pot, continue placing the rolls on a second layer.
To make the sauce, put the tomato paste and tomato sauce in a large bowl. Stir well to mix the paste in with the tomato sauce. Add the water, salt, pepper, garlic and Worchestershire sauce and mix well. Pour over the cabbage rolls in the pot. Shake the pot a little to make sure the sauce gets to the bottom.
Cover with the large leaves that you pulled off of the cabbage first. This will keep the top layer of cabbage rolls moist while they are cooking. Place the lid on the pot, and cook in a 350° oven for two to three hours.
I was very pleased with the results of my first attempt at making golumpki. They tasted just like the ones my Mama makes.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
1 or 2 heads of cabbage, medium sized with no broken leaves
Remove the first three or four large leaves from the cabbage and set aside. Cut the core out of the cabbage with a small sharp knife. Place the whole cabbage in a large pot of boiling water. As the leaves soften, peel them off and remove, placing on a plate or bowl. Continue removing leaves until they are too small to use.
For the filling:
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork sausage with sage
1/2 cup uncooked longrain rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon or 2 cubes instant beef bouillion
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the rice to the boiling water, and boil for two minutes. Drain off the water. Place all ingredients into a large bowl, and mix together with your hands. Fill cabbage leaves and place rolls in layers in a large pot or dutch oven with a lid.
For the sauce:
1 small can tomato paste
2 cans of water (use tomato paste can)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 cans water (use tomato sauce can)
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
Put the tomato paste and 2 cans water in a large bowl. Stir to blend the paste in well with the water. Add all the rest of the ingredients and still well to blend. Pour over cabbage rolls in pot. Cover with the first large leaves removed from the cabbage. Put the lid on the pot, and cook in a 350°oven for two to three hours.