Both my mother and mother-in-law had recipes for traditional Polish golabki, (pronounced “gaw woamb kee") a.k.a. cabbage rolls, or “pigs in blankets.” While both recipes are good, I have tweaked them over the years to make it my own. My latest (and best) version is actually based on a suggestion made by my husband. He enjoys my glazed meatloaf recipe and thought it would make a good filling and sauce for the golabki. I also make the recipe gluten free, so my daughter can eat it. For special occasions, I like to serve the golabki as part of a “Polish platter” with fresh or smoked Polish sausage, pierogi, and sweet and sour cabbage.
Makes about 12 cabbage rolls. Preparation and cooking time: two hours.
1 large cabbage
2 beaten eggs
½ cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 ½ cups herbed seasoned stuffing mix (note: if not making it gluten free, use Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing. To make the recipe gluten-free, I use Gillian’s Homestyle Stuffing; place in a plastic bag and crumble it with a rolling pin).
1 ½ pounds beef, pork, and veal mixture; usually sold as “meatloaf mix”
¼ cup (or more) chopped onion
2 ½ cups tomato juice
1 cup catsup
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp dry mustard powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare cabbage leaves: Boil water in large pot. Stick a large fork into cabbage core and hold cabbage head in boiling water to loosen leaves. Remove from water and carefully peel off outer leaves. Continue putting cabbage in boiling water and removing leaves until you have desired number (about 12). Set aside leaves; remaining cabbage can be used for sweet and sour cabbage recipe.
Prepare filling: Combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper in large bowl. Stir in stuffing mix and onion and let stand until moistened. Add ground meat and mix well. Form meatballs using 1/3 cup mixture for each. Put a meatball in each cabbage leaf and roll up, securing with toothpicks. Place filled leaves in a large roasting pan and pour the sauce over.
Bake covered for 1 hour at 350, reduce heat to 325 and bake covered an additional hour. Remove from pan, plate it, and spoon sauce over the top.
Christine A. Smyczynski is a freelance writer and blogger and author of Western New York Explorer's Guide.