Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stuffed Cabbage (Halupki)


Halupki, Stuffed cabbage, Pigs in a blanket, Golabki ... however you say it....YUM!

Every year I  look forward to my parents Labor Day visit and this year we were really laid back; seeing some sights in Greenville, eating some great homemade food and just really being with each other. Of course we also did a lot of work. When my parents come, and especially my Dad, work will be done! This year, and as always, I was happy to have the help. We totally cleaned my garden out and replanted my fall garden (pics to come soon!) My mom and I redecorated my back porch in bright new hues that just make me happy, and best of all my mom and I combined efforts in the kitchen to cook one of our family's favorite meals. As a family, we always called these Halupki or Pigs in a Blanket but every time I explain them to someone they have a different name for them- stuffed cabbage, golabki, dolma etc. So of course I had to look up the origin of this simple comfort food. See the history and heritage of this food here.  I thought that this was really an amazing story of something I have eaten since I was a tiny girl.
It was interesting, while making these with my mom this year, I asked how my little northern Italian Grandmother learned how  to make this Slovak/ Polish recipe. She explained that when my Italian Gram married my Pap who was Slovak, this was one of his favorite meals.  Since my Pap was the baby and all his big sisters looked out for him, they took my Gram under their wing and showed her how to make Halupki. And over the generations this has become one of our winter, comfort food staples.

When my mom and I both spotted this huge cabbage at the farmer's market we knew that it was destined for one thing...



Halupki

I hope that you enjoy this post. Since I had other hands in the kitchen, I was able to take a lot of pictures.  This is probably the closest I will come to making a tutorial and this recipe really needed step by step instructions.


A Halupki cut open so you can see how these are wrapped.

 
This recipe makes a lot of Halupki, but it is a great meal for a crowd or they can be packaged in freezer bags or containers for a easy meal anytime.


Ingredients:
1 large cabbage ( like above) or 2 smaller cabbages.
3-4 lbs of ground beef
1 1/2 cups rice (not instant)
2 medium onions chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large cans of canned or stewed tomatoes
Water
Toothpicks

Carefully core the cabbage with a sharp chefs knife.

My mom cores the cabbage so when the head is steamed, the leaves will peel off easily.

 
Place cored side of cabbage down into 1-2 inches of water in a large stockpot.

Getting ready to steam to release and soften the leaves.
 
Cover with a lid and bring the water to a boil. As cabbage leaves soften and loosen remove them to a colander in the sink to drain. Be sure that leaves are soft enough to peel away from head. They should not be hard on the veins but not so soft that they are slimy.
 
Now they are nice and soft for wrapping.
 
Make sure that the water has not all evaporated and continue this process for the whole cabbage. Re-core if necessary, i.e. if the leaves are not coming off because they are not attached to the core still.

Allow all cabbage leaves to cool to the touch.

In a separate large bowl, combine ground beef, uncooked rice, onions, and seasoning. Mix with hands until combined.

Ground beef mixture
Spread cabbage leaves out, cut large leaves down the center if they are very large.  Measure meat to fit in the palm of your hand.

Just enough meat mixture to fill your hand otherwise the meat will become dry.
Place meat at the core end of the leaf and roll, fold in softer edges of leaf to the end; secure the roll with a toothpick. This might take a few times before you get it. The most important thing is making sure that the meat mixture can not get out and is totally covered by the cabbage. Until you get the hang of it don't beat yourself up about all of them being symmetrical.

Perfect little cabbage roll

Using the large pot you steamed in. Place any left over or torn leaves on the bottom of the pot as a lining. Begin layering the Halupki in the pot.

Layer #1 of about 5 or 6

Alternate a Halupki layer then add about 1/2 of a can of tomatoes. Continue in this fashion until all the Halupki are in the pot.


Halupki and tomato layers

 
Add enough water to cover all. Add 2 TBSP of salt to the top of the pot.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil. After it boils turn the heat to low and boil for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. You need to cook this long to assure that the rice is done.

Serve with crusty buttered bread. Make sure to either remove the toothpicks before serving or warn guests that they are there.

Dinner is served.

2 comments:

R said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE! Makes me want to make these soon now that fall is coming in. I think we'll try your version this time

Anonymous said...

Always delicious - my Slovak Grandma used to use crumbled bacon in the meat mixture, and she used pork and beef - instead of tomatoes, kapusta (sour kraut) with caraway seeds. Real comfort food : )

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