Gołąbki (Polish Cabbage Rolls)
makes approx. 16
Prep time: approx 1 hour
Roasting time: 1-1/2 - 2 hours
4 slices/125g bacon, finely diced
1 large or 2 small yellow onions (230-250g), finely chopped
200g/1 cup long grain white rice, preferably parboiled/converted
500g/1-lb extra-lean ground beef
2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 small head (1.5-1.8kg) green cabbage
120ml/1/2 cup water
480ml/2 cups tomato juice
medium skillet/fry pan
medium pot with fitted lid
large pot (large enough to accommodate the head of cabbage)
shallow roasting pan or casserole dish (4-5 litre capacity or 28cm x 33cm/11"x13") with lid (or foil)
1. Cook bacon in the skillet over medium-high heat. Once it has been sizzling for 2 minutes and has started to render some of its fat, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring periodically, for 5-7 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place in a medium sized bowl to cool. Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the bacon fat.
2. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until very soft and translucent. Add to the bowl containing the bacon.
3. Meanwhile, cook the rice. Place the rice in a medium sized pot and add 480ml/2 cups cold water. Place on high heat and bring to a low boil. When craters appear on the surface and start to pop, cover and reduce heat to low, maintaining a gentle simmer. Cook for 8 minutes, drain and add to the bowl with the bacon and onion. The rice will be only partially cooked, very firm with an uncooked centre.
4. Once the bacon, onions and rice have cooled, add the ground beef, salt and pepper to the bowl. Stir to combine.
5. For the cabbage, bring a large pot of water to a boil on high heat. Place the cabbage on a cutting board, core side up. Cut around the core with a sharp knife.
6. Place the head of cabbage in the boiling water. Don't worry if it's not completely immersed, just rotate it every few minutes to make sure all of it is in the water at some point. Cook for about 2 minutes and gently remove the outermost leaves. Leave the loose leaves in the water to cook for an additional 2-5 minutes or until they are pliable but not soft and the area around the stem is no longer opaque. Remove cooked leaves to drain and cool. Continue cooking the head of cabbage, removing leaves every 1-2 minutes, cooking them and then draining them. Continue doing this until you have about 24-26 cooked leaves.
7. Preheat the oven to 165C/325F. If using a metal roasting pan, line with foil.
8. Set aside 3-4 of the outermost leaves which are too tough for the cabbage rolls and 3-4 of the innermost leaves that are too small, thick or curly. To stuff the remaining leaves, first trim the raised part of the stem on the outside of the cabbage leaf so it's the same thickness as the rest of the leaf.
9. Place the cabbage rolls seam side down in the roasting pan. Pour 120ml water into the pan and arrange the unstuffed leaves you've set aside on the top. Cover the dish with its lid or cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
10. Remove the lid/foil and layer of cabbage leaves. If there's no liquid in the pan, add 60ml/1/4 cup water. Pour the tomato juice evenly over the top of the cabbage rolls. Place the cabbage leaves back on top and cover once again with either the lid or foil. Bake an additional 30-60 minutes, checking after 30 minutes, until the cabbage is fork tender.
They're delicious freshly made but even better reheated. Enjoy!