Food is more than just something we consume; it’s a part of our culture and traditions.
One such dish that is deeply ingrained in Polish culture is Golumki, also known as Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. This dish is a tasty blend of cabbage leaves filled with a flavorful mixture of ground beef, rice, and spices, served in a sweet-sour tomato sauce.
This recipe is in honor of my (ex) mother-in-law who’s family was from a Poland. I had never even heard of Stuffed Cabbage Rolls before and loved it. She was a really great cook!
So, are you ready to embark on this little cooking adventure with me? Let’s dive into the step-by-step recipe for this classic dish.
Ingredients for Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
For this recipe, you’ll need
- fresh cabbage leaves (from one head of cabbage)
- 1 lb. ground beef (see variations below)
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- onion (to taste)
- garlic (to taste)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 TBSP vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
To start, blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water for a few minutes until they are soft and pliable.
To get the perfect balance of rice and ground beef, it’s important to measure the ingredients precisely. For every cup of uncooked rice, you’ll need one pound of ground beef. This will ensure that the rolls are hearty and satisfying.
Step One: Cooking the Ground Beef
To get this right, you need to start by browning the ground beef in a pan until it’s fully cooked. (You should see no pink!)
Be sure to break up any large clumps, and continuously stir until it’s a consistent texture throughout. Once browned, drain any excess oil from the pan and mix in diced onions, garlic, and seasonings like salt and pepper.
From there, let your taste buds guide you. You can add in other ingredients like tomato sauce or rice to give it an extra kick. (I do add a few spoons of tomato sauce to the ground beef for added flavor.)
Step Two: Cooking the Rice
Cooking rice can turn into a daunting task even for the seasoned home cook. The good news is, with a few simple tricks, you can make flawless rice every time.
First and foremost, ensure the ratio of water to rice is correct. The typical ratio is 1:2 for most varieties of rice.
TIP: When it comes to cooking rice, there are a multitude of opinions on how to achieve the perfect fluffy rice. One of the most debated topics is whether or not to rinse the rice before cooking. While some swear by a quick rinse to remove excess starch and impurities, others argue that it results in a loss of nutrients and can alter the taste.
But assuming you’ve decided to rinse, the question remains – do you use the same amount of water to cook it?
As with most things rice-related, it depends on the type of rice and your desired outcome. Some suggest using slightly less water if you rinse the rice, as it will already be slightly moistened. Others say that a 2:1 water to rice ratio is still appropriate, as the rinsing won’t make a significant difference.
To really up your game, incorporate seasoning such as salt, broth, or even spices to the cooking liquid for added flavor.
Bring the water to a boil, stir in the rice, then cover and reduce the heat to low.
Resist the temptation to lift the lid during cooking as this can disrupt the cooking process and lead to unevenly cooked rice.
Once the cooking time has elapsed, remove the pot from the heat, and fluff the rice with a fork.
Step Three: Combine the Beef and Rice
Combine the ground beef and cooked rice in a bowl, add chopped onion and garlic, and mix them well.
Use salt, pepper, and other spices like cumin and paprika to season the mixture to your liking.
Step Four: Prepare the Sauce
Creating the perfect sauce for your stuffed cabbage rolls will make all the difference.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of water.
Bring the sauce to a simmer and stir until all the ingredients have combined. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together perfectly.
You’ll be left with a tangy, sweet sauce that perfectly complements the savory stuffed cabbage within. Trust us, this sauce will become a new family favorite.
Step Five: Stuffing the Cabbage Rolls
Take one leaf at a time and place a heaping tablespoon of the beef and rice mixture in the center.
Roll up the cabbage leaf tightly, keeping the filling inside, and tuck in the ends.
Repeat the process with all the remaining leaves and the mixture.
Step Six: Cooking the Cabbage Rolls
In a large pot, place the stuffed cabbage rolls side by side, tightly packed together.
In a separate bowl, mix together tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and water.
Pour the sauce mixture over the cabbage rolls, making sure they are fully covered.
Place a lid on the pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for an hour or so, until the cabbage is cooked and the filling is fully cooked and juicy.
Step Seven: Finishing up
Once the cabbage rolls are cooked, carefully remove them from the pot and serve with a spoonful of sauce on top.
You can serve them with mashed potatoes, bread, or vegetables.
These delicious and hearty rolls are perfect for a family dinner or a social gathering.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls – Variations
Golumki is a versatile dish, and you can tweak the recipe according to your taste or preference.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your ingredients! You can add spices, vegetables, or even cheese to the mix for an extra burst of flavor.
You can also use different types of meat or a vegetarian option like lentils or mushrooms.
You can also use a different sauce or spice mix to add more zing to the dish.
Experiment with different options and let your imagination run wild.
Golumki is a dish that is not only delicious but also reflects the rich culture and traditions of Poland. This dish is simple to make, yet its flavors and textures are complex and satisfying.
Whether you are a home cook or a gourmet chef, this dish is a must-try. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make a batch of delicious Stuffed Cabbage Rolls yourself.
So, put on your aprons and let your creativity guide you to a mouth-watering meal.
Enjoy your culinary adventure!
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