Like many people with eastern European Ancestry, I have a stuffed cabbage roll recipe that’s been passed down through the matriarchy for more than a century. I had to wait until my daughter was born before my husband’s Hungarian grandmother shared her family recipe with me. She cooks hers like a soup, slow-simmered on the stovetop in a pressure-cooker.
The humble cabbage roll has been a staple of Jewish cooking for over 2,000 years, and its proliferation through Europe and Asia is evident in the diversity of cuisine-specific variations. In Syria, the meat is spiced with cinnamon. In Romania, lots and lots of garlic. I’ve even stumbled upon a Persian recipe that calls for dill. My recipe is a hodge-podge of various cuisines, mostly informed by my family’s ethnic miscellany. I like a combination of ground beef and pork, and I sweeten my tomato sauce just slightly. Sometimes I take a cue from my husband’s side of the family and add sweet paprika. The possibilities are endless.
I used Pak Choi for this recipe because the large leafy greens have a milder taste than traditional cabbage, but still hold up to the blanching and rolling process. Also, a good bunch of pak choi will have more of the large outer leaves (better for rolling) than a head of cabbage, so it goes farther! I’ve used collards, kale, and even bok choi in the past; any large, leafy green will do. Use the large outer leaves for rolling, and keep any smaller leaves as “band aids” for the holes or tears in the larger leaves.
Stuffed Pak Choi Rolls (Galumpkis)
1 large head pak choi
16 oz. pound ground, grass-fed beef
8 oz. ground sausage
2 large sweet onions, minced
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly grated black pepper
½ cup cooked brown rice
2 TBS butter or olive oil
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup golden raisins
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat while you prepare the filling. Wash and peel the greens, keeping stems intact.
- Melt butter or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onions and garlic to sweat. Once they’re translucent and fragrant, set aside to cool.
- To make the sauce, combine half the sauteed onion and garlic mixture in a large mixing bowl with the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and raisins. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add one cup sauce to the bottom of a large pyrex baking dish and set aside while you make your rolls.
- Combine ground beef, sausage, eggs, rice, and half the sauteed garlic and onions in a large bowl and mix with your hands to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the water comes to a rolling boil, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Blanch the greens in the boiling water a few at a time for 5-10 seconds. I use the long stems as handles, dunking only the leafy parts. Remove from boiling water, dunk in the ice bath, and set aside. Repeat for all the leaves.
- On a large working surface, make your rolls. Spread a wilted leaf out on your working surface and use a sharp knife to cut the thick stem off the bottom of the leaf, cutting up in a V-shape if necessary to remove the thickest parts. Add a spoonful of the meat mixture to the bottom of the leaf. Bring the v-shaped incision together underneath the meat if needed as you roll, wrapping the leaf around the meat in a tight roll, tucking in the sides mid-way up (like you’re rolling a tiny burrito). Place the rolls seam side down in the pre-sauced baking dish. Continue with remaining leaves.
- Once all the rolls have been assembled and arranged in the baking dish, top with remaining sauce and cover lightly with foil. Bake for 2 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or corn grits.