Monday, September 2, 2013

Golubzi (Stuffed Cabbage)

The clouds that arrived on Saturday and decided to overstay their welcome through today have not created the best conditions for proper Labor Day celebrations. I have not gone to the beach, nor have I eaten coleslaw and potato salad with my cheeseburger. Instead, I found that this dreary day was the perfect day to embark upon (what I thought would be) the most time consuming Russian project of all. Golubzi, or as the Americans call them, stuffed cabbage.

The little pockets of meat and rice contrast quite nicely with the gloom.

Golubzi are another recipe synonymous with my aunt Faina, they are her speciality and she makes the best ones I have ever had. In addition to preparing cutlets, salat olivier, boiled potatoes and more, anytime she is cooking for a crowd, golubzi are on the table. 

I have always been amazed at Faina's continuous patience and dedication to the labor that goes into creating golubzi. From cooking the cabbage and preparing the stuffing, to making the sauce and rolling balls of meat so that they fit perfectly into cabbage leaves, this is no quick-fix meal. And yet, she loves to makes these over and over again. As time consuming as these were, after taking my first bite of my own golubzi, I too will be making them again and again.

 Rolling the meat into the cabbage leaves is much like rolling up blintzes with cheese.  However, because this was my first time, I did need to use a toothpick for a few that didn't roll up so easily

Loved using my new Le Creuset Dutch Oven for the first time

 See, that didn't REALLY take that long, did it?
The dollop of sour cream on top is an absolute necessity

Although I have talked about the amount of time and energy that goes into making these, if you enjoy every minute of creating something from start to a delicious finish like Faina and me do, then here's where you'll begin:

Golubzi (Stuffed Cabbage) makes about 20 servings
Faina's original recipe

2 heads of cabbage
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1/2 cup rice
5 small onions
2 cans tomato sauce
2 tbsp sour cream


For the cabbage:
1.) Place cabbage heads in two separate pots and pour water over them so that the cabbage is almost entirely covered
2.) Cook on high heat until water boils, then reduce heat to medium
3.) Cook the cabbage until it is soft (about 30 minutes)
4.) Let cabbage cool completely

For the stuffing:
1.) Prepare 1/2 cup rice until mostly but not fully cooked, let cool
2.) Grate two onions, put aside
3.) Dice and sauté one onion until golden and tender, let cool
4.) Using your hands, mix rice, prepared onions, beef, and pork. Add salt and pepper
5.) Add 1 cup of water and mix again. Stuffing should be soft and smooth

For the sauce:
1.) Take remaining two onions: dice and sauté them in a pan until golden and tender
2.) Lowerthe heat and add the tomato sauce to the pan
3.) Mix well and add 2 tbsp of sour cream, salt + pepper
4.) Cook for a few minutes, then take off of heat

For the assembly of the golubzi:
1.) After the cabbage has cooled, peel it and place each leaf onto a flat surface
2.) Cut out the center strip of each leaf (this is the hard piece right in the middle of the leaf)
3.) One at a time, take about 3 tbsp of meat and roll it into an oval shape. Place it in one cabbage leaf
4.) Roll up the cabbage leaf, folding in the sides so that no stuffing can fall out
5.) After stuffing each leaf, place them in a large pot
6.) Pour the prepared sauce over the golubzi and add 11/2 cup of water
7.) Move the golubzi around in the pot to make sure that the sauce and water touches all of them down to the bottom of the pot
8.) Cook over high heat until sauce boils, reduce heat to low and cook for 1.5-2 hours
9) Serve hot with a spoonful of sour cream

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