For Poles Golabki need no introduction. It’s always on Polish tables regardless of which part of the country you’re coming from, and the recipe is always pretty much the same.
It turns out that in the US Polish cabbage rolls are dominated by Martha Stewart recipe. If you didn’t know, Martha Stewart is actually a third-generation American but entirely of Polish heritage since both of her grandparents arrived at Ellis Island from Poland at the beginning of the XXth century.
Her father actually traveled back and forth to Europe from the US on Batory ship – which my own grandfather used to work on.
Anyway, Martha’s recipe slightly varies from the old traditional recipe for Golabki. It’s not better or worse, it’s just slightly different since they’re baked, not stewed.
Why is Polish Stuffed Cabbage Called Gołąbki – Little Pigeons?
First things first, where did the name of this dish come from? It’s most likely borrowed from Ukranian „hołubci” (gołąbek – single) at the beginning of the XIXth century.
The actual story behind what was inside golabki at first varies. Some sources claim that there were actually stuffed pigeons wrapped in cabbage on royal courts in France and Poles got jealous of it, since for decades stuffed pigeons and other birds like swans were considered a fancy dish.
Other sources think it’s because in Slavic languages they liked to use names of birds and animals for dishes made of potatoes or bread.
Either way, the middle-class made the dish famous by stuffing cabbage with what they had – kasza (buckwheat) and potatoes. There was no meat or rice in this dish before, like it’s eaten today.
Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe Pointers:
- Keep checking on the cabbage while you’re cooking it. Some types take a bit longer to cook.
- If you don’t want to make your own tomato sauce you can use a regular pasta sauce.
- Large cabbage head
- 1.3 lbs of minced meat
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of cooked rice
- 8-12 oz of Veggie bouillon
- Salt, Pepper, Marjorie
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 2 cups of tomato puree
- Salt, Pepper, Sugar
- Cook the rice, then chop onion and garlic and gently fry it on a pan. Once it's all ready wait for it to cool down.
- Meanwhile, hollow the cabbage, then transfer to a big pot and boil for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the cooked cabbage, separate the leaves and cut out thick ribs out of each big leaf. Place small leaves and those that ripped in the process at the bottom of your giant pot again to avoid burning.
- In a large bowl mix meat, cooked onion and garlic, rice, with salt, pepper and marjorie.
- Put the stuffing on each cabbage leaf and roll the cabbage rolls. Make sure they are tightly compressed. Then place the rolls in your giant pot again.
- Cover it with veggie bouillon and cook for about 35-40 minutes.
- While the golabki are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan melt the butter and when it's melted, slowly add the flour.
- Then pour in a cup of the boiled billion from the pot with golabki. Bring to boil, then add tomato puree. Bring to boil again and season with salt, pepper and desired spices.
- Serve with mashed potatoes.
This recipe can be easily made vegetarian by replacing minced meat with lentils and soybeans. Alternatively, you can also add finely chopped mushrooms - whether it's meat or veggie option.