Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Golabki)
Polish myth holds that the king of Poland served Golabki to his army before an important battle of the Thirteen Years War. Apparently the hearty meal gave them the strength they needed for victory. Obviously we are not feeding an army, but preparing this recipe for Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, or Golabki, will make you feel like a kitchen warrior. I promise the mouths you feed will compliment you after they finish their seconds. And although Cabbage Rolls spend a good bit of time in the oven, the cozy level of your house will skyrocket while they bake and scents of the tomatoey, meaty, brown sugary mixture fill the air.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, while delicious and crave-worthy, are sadly not a weeknight meal. In fact, this is Granny’s recipe, and it is somewhat of a culinary event. The only tricky part is removing the cabbage leaves while keeping them in one piece. Other than that, the steps are simple. The three hours in the oven are what keep Stuffed Cabbage Rolls off the weeknight menu. If that’s what you are here for, try Hamburger Hominy Helper or Apricot Chicken with Wild Rice!
I reserve this recipe for holidays and my most special guests. But unlike a certain king in a certain war, I don’t expect anyone to skip dessert to run out to combat, much less help with the dishes. This dish is worth the effort. It is warm, celebratory, rustic, and suitable for fancy guests and Polish warriors alike.
This is an old post with a facelift! This recipe is a family favorite stuffed with memories and lots of flavor. We haven’t changed the recipe, but after all of the updates to the blog, we wanted to show off this one again. Enjoy!
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, or Golabki, are a traditional Polish dish. This is a warm, celebratory, rustic, meal suitable for the most special occasions.
- 1 large head cabbage
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 c water
- 1/2 c raw regular or processed white or brown rice
- 1 small grated onion
- 1 egg
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 16 oz cans tomato sauce
- 2 16 oz cans diced tomatoes
- 1 t salt
- 1/4 t pepper
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1 additional 16 oz can either tomato sauce or diced tomatoes (only if making ahead and reheating)
Heat oven to 350.
Remove 12 large leaves from cabbage. If you have trouble with this, hold the whole head of cabbage in the steam of a pot of boiling water to loosen the leaves. Shave off thick part of each leaf. Pour on boiling water to make leaves easy to roll.
Combine meat with rice, grated onion, eggs, and salt and pepper, to taste.
Cover the bottom of a large oven-safe dutch oven with olive oil. Remove enough remaining cabbage leaves from the head of cabbage to cover the bottom of the pot. Line the bottom of the dutch oven with cabbage.
Place a mound of the meat mixture in the cup part of each prepared leaf. Fold over each side of the leaf and roll the cabbage around the meat mixture.
Arrange stuffed cabbage with seam sides down on top of the flat cabbage in the pot. Add sliced onion to the dutch oven. Combine the tomato sauce, tomatoes, and juice of the lemons to make a sauce and pour into the Dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar on top.
It is ok to layer the cabbage rolls on top on one another. See note if layering*.
Bring to boil on top of range; then bake covered for 2 hours. Turn the oven to 325, uncover, and bake for 1 more hour.
*If you have more than one layer of cabbage rolls, pour some sauce and brown sugar on top of the first layer. Separate the layers with a layer of flat cabbage leaves. Pour the rest of the sauce on top. Sprinkle with more brown sugar.
These reheat very well and are almost better on day two. They also freeze very well. If making ahead and reheating, add another can of either tomato sauce or diced tomatoes if you feel the need.