Golumpki - The Old School Way

Aug 17, 2017
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As the summer wanes and things are brought in from the garden, it is time to start making delicious things. The aromas coming from the kitchen make this a great time for the family to hang around. Most are willing to give a hand, but others just offer to test the finished products.

Today I have an abundance of cabbage. I do not make Kimchee, but I do make golumpki. Making golumpki was first taught me by my Polish mother-in-law. Starting out as Ma, she quickly became Babcie once the children started arriving. She had a good hand with cooking in the kitchen. Many of her recipes were a pinch of this and a handful of that. I have been able to sort this out from some of her cooking. Golumpki is one of those recipes.

The secret to making tender rolled cabbage starts with the cabbage. Most recipes call for your basic garden variety of the vegetable. But to get the most tender and not inundate the eater with a mouthful of vegetable and not much filling, try the Savoy cabbage. Sometimes these can be hard to find in the market, but at the end of summer, they should be available. These have a leaf that looks crinkly, like crumpled tin foil when flattened out. This allows a tender bite when cooked up.

Pull off the outer leaves that may have some damage on them, cut around the stem, and immerse the head into a pot of water that has a couple tablespoons of vinegar in it. Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer till outer leaves of the cabbage is tender. Remove the outer leaves carefully and then return it to simmer. As the leaves get tender, remove them to a colander. Continue to cook and remove the outer leaves until the head is down to next to nothing. In order to handle the head without getting burned, I use a pair of tongs to grab out the cooked leaf and not take the whole head out of the water. Keep cutting around the stem as the first ones come out. Don't discard the inner leaves. There is a use for them. If you do not like the aroma of cabbage in the house (it lingers), then place a crust of bread on top of the cabbage as it simmers. That will help reduce the odor.

When the leaves are cool enough to handle, with a sharp knife, remove the tough spine by laying the knife flat against the leaf, taking care not to make a hole in it. As you get to the smaller leaves, this will not be necessary.

That seems like a lot of work, but it really is not once you get the hang of it. You can start making the filling while the cabbage simmers.

Place 1/2 cup of rice in 2 cups of water. Cook for 10 minutes. The object here is to have fluid left in the pan to loosen the meat mixture.

Mix: 1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
cooked rice - do not drain
1 egg
1 chopped onion
2 stalks of grated celery
2-3 tsp Poultry Seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

To form the golumpki, take a large leaf of cabbage and starting at the spine end, place a heaping serving spoon of meat mixture at the edge. The leaf will roll up easily, tuck in the sides as you go along. Place the finished roll, end side down in a pan that you can cover and roast in. Continue the same way until you are out of meat filling. If you find you have holes in your leaf and the filling is in jeopardy of falling out, take one of those saved inner leaves and patch it onto the hole.

Using chicken broth of your choosing, pour broth over the cabbage rolls until you can see it in there, but does not cover the rolls. Take the leaves that you peeled off the head of cabbage at the beginning and cover the golumpki. This keeps them from overly browning. Cover the pan and put into a 350-degree oven for 2 hours. Check occasionally and add more broth if needed.

Many cooks like to bake their golumpki in a tomato broth/base. I do not. My family prefers to put catsup on their individual servings. It is just another option.

Once cooked, these freeze well. I do a double batch just for that purpose. Reheating in the oven is preferable, but a microwave will do.


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