Traditional polish cabbage rolls with tomato sauce

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If one could catch the essence of polish cuisine in one dish- this would be it. Why? well, it’s meat,carbs and cabbage in one dish, and we really love our cabbage 😉

I honestly don’t know the origins of this dish, the literal translation however is ”little pigeons”. Not sure why they’re called like that, I think it’s quirky 😉 Don’t let the name fool you though, it’s got nothing to do with pigeons or any other bird. What they really are is cabbage rolls, stuffed with minced meat and rice, traditionally served with tomato sauce and potatoes or bread.They might seem like a time-consuming dish, and there’s a bit of ”fiddly” work, with the rolling etc, but the end result is totally worth it. 😉

for about 14 cabbage wraps

600g of mince meat (mix of pork and beef)

150g of smoked bacon lardons

1 large onion- finely diced

2 garlic cloves- minced or very finely chopped

14 large cabbage leaves – briefly blanched in boiling water, just to soften them

about 275g of rice – you can use any type, I used half-cooked basmati

salt,pepper to taste

1 tbsp of marjoram- dried

200-300ml of chicken stock

for the tomato sauce:

5 large tomatoes- peeled, deseeded, diced.

70g of tomato puree

2 onions- chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper

1 tsp of sweet paprika powder

salt,pepper,sugar to taste

1 tbsp of dried oregano

1 tbsp of dried basil

1/2 tsp of dried thyme

2 tbsp of olive oil

1)      mix your half-cooked rice and your raw meat, along with one , finely chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tbsp of dried marjoram and all the lardons, in one bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (if you have salted the water which you’ve cooked the rice in, go easy on the salt).

2)      divide the mixture into 14 portions, take one leaf at a time, lay it flat, place a portion (make sure it’s not too big) on the bottom end of the leaf and roll it half way, fold the sides over and tuck them in tightly, roll over to the end, place seem-down on a plate. repeat the process until all of your meat and cabbage is gone.

3)      any leftover cabbage trimmings you have can be used as a ”bottom” in the pot, that will prevent the wraps from burning etc. place the trimmings in your pot(or heavy based,deep saucepan), place the wraps on top (tightly,seem down) and pour in the chicken stock (you can use water).

simmer slowly for about 40-45min with the lid on, checking every now and then for the amount of liquid in the pot, if it’s too dry, add some more. after that your cabbage wraps are ready.

for the sauce:

1)      heat up the olive oil in a heavy based sauce pan, fry the onions and the garlic until slightly soft and shiny. Add your fresh tomatoes and fry off for about 4-5 min. Add Your tomato puree, your dried herbs, salt,pepper,some sugar (you could add some balsamic vinegar at this stage too), then add about 100-150ml of water and simmer until all of the tomatoes fall apart forming a thick sauce. You may want to check for the consistency a few times and add some water if the mixture is too thick. after about 30-40min the tomatoes should be fully cooked , check the seasoning , you can add some cayenne pepper,make sure there’s enough salt,pepper and sugar (to balance out the acidity in the tomatoes). blend the sauce briefly with a hand-blender.

serve your cabbage wraps with some tomato sauce and for example boiled potatoes and dill, or simply with fresh bread. They’ll be delicious either way! enjoy! 😉

 

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