Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes

Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes
Chef Ilona Szabo Reveals The Secrets of Hungarian Cooking

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hungarian Cabbage Rolls - Töltöt Káposzta

Töltöt Káposzta

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are a Classic Hungarian dish that almost everyone world-wide recognizes. No wedding celebration would be complete without large pots of these tightly rolled bundles of meat and rice held by soft wrappers of cabbage. The rolls lay in a bed of silky sauerkraut with hints of smoky bacon. The cabbage and sauerkraut combine to a most delicious and mellow dish. Once you sample this dish, you are hooked!

Growing up, we all loved Cabbage Rolls in tomato sauce, prepared just like Stuffed Hungarian Peppers. We were able to smother the bread with sour cream and mop up the juices and cabbage pieces. My dad preferred a more smokey bacon flavour. In order to please everyone, mom prepared it both ways. On one occasion, she came up with a brilliant compromise; she combined both sets of ingredients - partially tomato juice and partially smoked bacon and sauerkraut. We loved it and she continued to prepare it this way since that time.


½ lb each of ground pork, beef & veal
1 cup long grain rice
*(Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice)
1 med–lrg head green cabbage
1 large onion
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp hot paprika
1 - 28 oz jar Sauerkraut
1 - 28 oz can tomato juice
2 cups water (more if req)

2 tbsp flour
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp bacon fat
Smokey Version
½ lb piece smoked pork rib, bacon, pork hock or ham bone

1 pt sour cream
1 loaf Hungarian Crusty White Bread


Stuffing/Filling: Grate and sauté onion slightly in a small amount of bacon fat. Add paprika, stir and allow flavours to bloom. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine; onions, meat and rice and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasoning. *(Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice stays whole and just aldente -lovely. Soak in 1 cup luke-warm water and rinse, no need to cook.)

Cabbage Leaves: Core centre of cabbage in a cone shape down and into the cabbage so leaves will pull away easily.

Place in a large 6 qt boiling pot of water. Pierce centre of cabbage head with a long roasting fork and hold immersed in boiling water. As cabbage blanches, the outer leaves will start to peel away. Encourage peeling using a large wooden spoon, pushing each leaf down into the boiling water.

Keep peeling leaves until all are pulled away from the core. When complete, remove all leaves carefully into colander and drain with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Then, place all leaves on a cutting board. Sort leaves by placing all equal sized leaves together. Trim off thick, middle vein with a sharp paring knife being careful not to tear the cabbage leaf. Larger leaves can be cut into 2, right down the centre, cutting away the thick vein to create 2 smaller leaves. The smallest leaves are not used in rolling, but cut into julienne strips to line the pot.

Rolling Technique: Take 1 leaf at a time and place on a cutting board or in your left hand. (ruffled edge away from you) Place an ice-cream scoop or 2 tbsp seasoned meat/rice mixture on the centre. Roll lengthwise starting at the cored flat end ½ way and then fold left leafy side over middle (like a Burrito). Continue rolling and then when completely rolled, tuck right leafy loose end inside with index finger. (Not too much pressure, or you will tear the cabbage and then the stuffing will leak and protrude out during cooking.)

Pot Assembly: If using Smokey Version, place Pork Hock or rib on bottom of pot now. Then, start by placing reserved cabbage strips at the bottom of large pot along with 1/3 of the sauerkraut and the pieces of thick bacon including rind. Start placing Cabbage Rolls snugly in concentric circles layering the sauerkraut in between each layer. The smokey flavours will filter all the way up through the pot. Continue in this fashion until all leaves are rolled and placed into the pot. Cover with more cabbage pieces and sauerkraut if desired. Pour over the tomato juice and enough water to cover. Simmer about 1 hour on medium heat. Test 1 roll – go ahead – you know you want to! If meat is cooked and rice is al dente, then remove from heat. If not, cook for another 15-30 minutes at the most.

Roux- Rantas: Heat bacon fat and add flour and paprika. Sauté slightly then, add water and stir until you get a smooth consistency. You may have to pour off some of the liquid into a small saucepan and cream the thickener from there. Add roux back into cabbage pot. Do not stir rolls; just shake the pot so that the sauce penetrates in between the rolls. Remove from heat. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a large serving dish.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with fresh Hungarian bread and generous servings of sour cream.

Yield - 24-28 cabbage rolls.

Note: Delicious the next day as flavours meld. Freezes well for 3-6 months. Mom says that red cabbage is never used for cabbage rolls, otherwise – both are fair game in most other stir-fry type dishes.

Soured Cabbage Version: Try soured cabbage (sold fresh out of the barrel at delis or sealed in a plastic bag at the grocer). Leaves are more pliable, but you should rinse thoroughly before using and taste-test as it may be quite tangy for some palates. Also, omit the 28 oz sauerkraut from the recipe - you can cut up left over cabbage leaves to line the pot. This is a bit more pricey, but faster and very delicious!

To view the picturesque version of this procedure - follow the link below. (Photos and Demo by Evangeline Mackell of Design in Bloom) DESIGN IN BLOOM


For More Amazing Truly Authentic Hungarian Heritage recipes -visit our website. Helen' s Hungarian Heritage Recipes

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1 comment:

bob tish tisinai said...

I had always had these as an appetizer. Follow it with a cucumber salad and goulash. Yum