This version of Polish golabki (go-WOMP-kee; "little pigeons") calls for savoy cabbage, whose delicate leaves make for easier rolling than green cabbage. The sauce makes the dish.
Depending on the size and number of cabbage leaves, you might have some leftover stuffing, which can be shaped into meatballs and baked. For this recipe, it's helpful to use a large pot that has a strainer insert. Leftover cabbage leaves can be refrigerated for a day or two, then coarsely chopped, sauteed in butter and seasoned for serving as a side dish for another meal.
Make Ahead: The cabbage rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in a baking dish in a 325-degree oven for about 25 minutes. The dried mushrooms for the sauce need to be soaked for at least 30 minutes.
Servings: 4 - 6
Yield: Makes 16 to 20 rolls
- For the rolls
- 2 large heads savoy cabbage (2 3/4 to 3 pounds total)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
- 4 cups cooked white rice
- 1 pound raw, coarsely chopped pork or chicken breast meat (thigh meat will be juicier, but white meat works as well)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
- For the sauce
- 1 ounce dried, mixed mushrooms or porcini mushrooms
- 2 cups just-boiled water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 1 pound mixed fresh mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and coarsely chopped (go for an exotic mix, but if your market offers only portobello, cremini and shiitake, those will work as well)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth
- 1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the rolls: Fill a pot (large enough to hold a submerged head of cabbage, and preferably with a strainer insert inside) with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the first head of cabbage and parboil for about 10 minutes. Transfer the cabbage to a colander in the sink to drain until it is just cool enough to handle. Repeat with the second head of cabbage. Discard the cabbage cooking liquid.
Gently discard the cabbages' outer leaves, some of which might be soggy or torn. Those will be used to line the baking dish, as will any small leaves you might accumulate. It helps to cut off some of the coarse stem at the bottom of each leaf as you work. Your goal is to have 16 to 20 medium-to-large leaves for rolling. Use paper towels to pat each of them dry.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and add the onion, stirring to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly browned. Transfer to a food processor and let cool for a few minutes, then add the rice and chopped meat; season generously with salt and pepper. Pulse until incorporated yet not mushy; you should still see individual grains of rice.
Spread the 16 to 20 cabbage leaves on a work surface and divide the filling evenly among the leaves, placing it near the bottom of each leaf. If any stem remaining on the leaf seems especially tough or thick, you can use a vegetable peeler to pare it down. Roll up the leaves, tucking in the sides so the stuffing is contained.
Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with the torn/small cabbage leaves. Rest the rolls on top, seam sides down; they can be crowded together, as long as they don't overlap. If you run out of room in one baking dish, start a smaller, second one, lining it in the same way.
Pour in the broth, which should come no more than a third of the way up the sides of the rolls. Use the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to dot the tops of the rolls. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour or until the tops are golden and slightly crisped.
Transfer the cabbage rolls to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm (in the turned-off oven). Discard the leaves lining the baking dish, but reserve the broth, which will be added to the mushroom sauce.
For the sauce: Soak the dried mushrooms in the just-boiled water for at least 30 minutes, until softened. Pour the mushrooms and soaking liquid into a bowl through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a paper towel or cheesecloth. Squeeze the mushrooms to extract as much of the moisture as possible, reserving the soaking liquid. Rinse the mushrooms with cold water, pat dry, and coarsely chop.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and stir to coat; cook for a few minutes, until it is translucent. Add the chopped fresh mushrooms and soaked dried mushrooms, and cook, stirring often, until all the mushrooms are soft and golden.
Sprinkle the mushrooms with the flour, then season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring constantly until the mushrooms are well coated. Slowly add the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, continuing to stir until all of the liquid is blended and the mixture has thickened.
Add the wine or vermouth, then the cream, then any broth remaining in the cabbage rolls' baking dish, stirring constantly and allowing them to cook for a minute or two before adding the next ingredient. Add the lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, to form a sauce that is rich and thick. If the sauce remains thin after 15 minutes, increase the heat to medium and cook at a gentle boil, stirring. The yield is about 4 cups.
Pour the hot sauce over the cabbage rolls, and serve immediately.
Adapted from "From a Polish Country House Kitchen: 90 Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food," by Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden (Chronicle, 2012).
Tested by Zofia Smardz.
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