Stuffed Cabbage

 

ToltottKaposzta

 

Toltott Kaposzta (Stuffed Cabbage), a traditional Christmas dish, is great for a crowd.
Everyone kind of makes it their own way, so you can modify it to your tastes too. It is really easy and you really can’t make a mistake.

1 cabbage, cored–as deep as you can. It makes the leaves come off more easily. Remove the very outer leaves first before cooking.

Meat Filling:

Equal parts ground beef and ground pork, or you can change the proportion. 1 1/2 lbs of each makes a generous amount.

3 eggs (you can start with 2 eggs, and see if you have enough moisture)

1 4-6 inch piece of dried Hungarian sausage or a piece of other smoked sausage and/or a smoked ham hock–gives it the best flavor!

(adds more flavor to the broth).

Uncooked rice: 1/3- 1/2 cup (depending on how much you like rice.

1 large onion, chopped fine

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 large jar bottled sauerkraut, rinsed in a colander several times to get rid of the excess sour taste

Paprika

Ketchup

Salt
(Optional: Large Bottle tomato juice. There are two versions of stuffed cabbage–one with tomato juice, one without. The choice is yours. Add the tomato juice while the cabbage rolls are cooking if you like. It is purely a regional thing, and therefore a matter of personal taste).

Using bacon grease if you have it, sautee the onions lightly in a small skillet.

Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Add the cored cabbage. As the cabbage cooks, the leaves will start to come off easily with a fork. I just kind of stand there and take them off gently one at a time and place on a large plate or tray. It is OK to let them cool before you fill you fill them.

Filling: I use my heavy duty mixer with the paddle attachment for a nice smooth texture, Combine the pork and beef to make a mixture like a meat loaf, using as much chopped onion and garlic, salt, pepper, as you would normally use. Add eggs. I use up to three for a 2-3 lb. amount of meat. it should be the texture of a meat loaf. If it is too moist, you can add some bread crumbs until it forms meatballs easily. They should still be a little sticky..Add no more than 1/2 cup uncooked rice to this amount. The rice expands so you don’t need much. This again is up to you.Add rice and mix just until blended. If the mixture is too moist to make meatballs,add a just enough bread crumbs to make the mixture stay together. It should still be a little sticky, not too dry.

When you have all the leaves pulled off the cabbage, you can fill them. (I also cut out the heavy white stalk part of the leaves because it makes them easier to roll). Fill each leaf with a meatball size portion of the filling and roll like a burrito. Place all rolls on a tray.Layer the well rinsed sauerkraut in the bottom of a large pot.Place rolls carefully on top of sauerkraut, add any leftover cabbage or meatballs that are left if you run out of cabbage leaves. Add the sausage and ham hock.Add enough water to cover all. Add about 1/4 cup ketchup, the sausage, ham hock,2-3 tsps paprika, or more if needed for a beautiful color, about 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and immediatlely reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 40 minutes.

To thicken liquid, optional: Add 1 cup sour cream mixed with about 3-4 Tablespoons of flour until smooth. Add to liquid and bring to a quick boil and simmer on reduced heat for about 5 minutes. For a thicker sauce, you can make a traditional roux of flour and oil or bacon grease. Check the seasonings–may need more salt.To serve: add a dollop of sour cream to the top of each serving instead of doing the flour/sour cream thickener.

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