Why do you think he grows cabbage?

I married into a Polish family. Try as I might my golumpki never came out right. Tough cabbage, stuffing mix like lead, or worse -- a crumbled heap of meat and rice. I tried adding egg (meatloaf golumpki?), tomato soup, every trick I could find in the cookbooks the church ladies sold after Mass once a year. My husband poured on the Heinz to make them palatable.

After close to twenty years of frustration I threw up my hands and said, "Make them yourself." So he did. But first, he asked the experts for advice. Turned out Farmer Paul is his mother's son, his aunt's nephew and a pretty good Polish cook. It took time, but we've got a system now. He still likes ketchup on them but these Polish yummies don't need a thing beyond a fresh slice of seeded rye bread on the side.

1 medium cabbage, frozen whole at least 24 hours up to 3 weeks
1 cup of cooked River brand rice
1 pound hamburger, 20/80 fat to lean
1 one inch cube salt pork, chopped small
salt and pepper to taste
large oval baking dish

In a small fry pan, sauté the chopped salt pork until crispy and the fat has been released from the meat. Strain and reserve fat, discarding the pork meat. Put your ground beef in a large bowl. Add 1 cup (still warm)cooked rice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix with hands until well blended. Add reserved fat, should be about one tablespoon, and mix again until evenly blended. Cover and refrigerate while your cabbage boils.

Cioce's secret (I should have asked sooner) to getting cabbage leaves thin, tender and easy to work with was to freeze the raw head in advance then cook on a low boil for twenty minutes. Set for about 10-15 minutes on a plate to drain and cool. Reserve one cup of the cabbage water. The leaves should come off easily with little effort beyond cutting them away from the core.

Line the bottom of your baking pan with the darker and less tasty leaves on the outside of the cabbage. Take a hefty size tablespoon full of the meat-rice mix and place on stem end (hint: cut away the thickest part of the stem) of a cabbage leaf. Bring each side of leaf over into middle and roll. Place roll in baking dish with the seam side down. Repeat until all meat is used. Should make about a dozen golumpki.

Pour the reserved cabbage water over top of rolls. An added delicious treat is to place sliced kielbasa around the cabbage rolls if you wish. Cover with double layer of foil and bake about an hour on 350 degrees. Let sit 10-15 minutes before serving. Individually wrap extra rolls in plastic and freeze, they taste great as a microwave meal on busy weeknights.


  1. My not-Polish (Swedish and Native American) grandma always made a tomato sauce for hers (better than ketchup). And I'm pretty sure she never froze her cabbage. I thought that would destroy the cabbage. Who knew? Cioce Sophie, apparently. Aha!

  2. Hello! How happy to find a recipe like my Grammy's Golumbki! I wish I watched her closer when it came to making them but I always remembered the River rice and Salt pork... I never remembered what she did with it. I wanted to ask if the Golumbki in your recipe is mushy in the middle? my Grammys was and I love them that way... please let me know... I am jreed438@gmail.com please let me know :-)


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