1 head (2kg) white cabbage
400 gr Porkminced
300 gr chickenminced
300 gr Beefminced
1 glass rice
200 gr tomatoes
4 small carrots
200 gr sour cream
100 gr tomato paste
ground black pepperto taste
Holubtsi are traditional Ukrainian cabbage rolls, especially beloved in the Carpathians. While holubtsi are usually stuffed with minced meat, the dish can be made vegetarian with plain rice or buckwheat. Cabbage is boiled to soften the leaves, which are then filled with minced pork or beef, browned onions and carrots, mushrooms, and cooked rice. The wrapper can variously be cabbage, beet, lettuce or spinach leaves, and even grape leaves in the grape-growing regions of Ukraine. The cooking liquid varies by region and family and can include broth, tomato juice, and sour cream. Afterward, holubtsi are braised and served garnished with dill. The serving usually includes 2 to 3 pieces, as holubtsi are very filling.
How to Prepare the Cooking Rice and Cabbage:
- Separate the cabbage leaves from the cob and scald the leaves in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. If leaves are large, cut along side of vein on both sides, otherwise just cut off the veins being careful not to cut through the leaf.
- Pull apart cabbage; set aside damaged or small leaves. Line roaster with reject cabbage leaves. If you have enough, place them along the sides, too.
- Wash the rice with cold water and boil it until it becomes semi-ready in about 7-10 minutes.
How to Make the Stuffing/ Meat Mixture Prep (The Filling):
- Mix ground meats and rice together in a large bowl.
- Fry onions; cook them until they are translucent, set aside 1⁄2 of the fried onions for the sauce, and use 1⁄2for the filling.
- Grate and saute the carrots in approximately 3 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp butter over med/high heat until they are soft; these will be added to the filling to thicken and flavor it.
- Mix together the fried onions, carrots, and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I like to use white pepper, if it’s available–it gives a nicer taste.
How to Cut & Stuff the Cooked Leaves:
- Small Leaves: slice off the raised surface of the tough center stem just to flatten the leaf and make it easier to roll. Fill each cabbage leaf with about 2 Tbsp meat mixture. Place the filling over the stem/ bottom portion. Roll like a burrito and stuff both ends in with fingers.
2.Large leaves: cut the leaves in half down the center removing the tough stem portion- you will end up with 2 leaves. Place 2 Tbsp meat mixture at the top of each leaf (or as much as you can fit – leaf sizes vary). Roll the leaf into a cone shape with the thicker part of the leaf at the base and stuff the wide part into the top. As you stuff your cabbage, arrange them either in the same pot you used to cook the cabbage or in a cast iron Dutch oven.
3.Place cabbage rolls into the pot, wedging together tightly. Depending on the size and shape of the roaster, and the number of cabbage rolls, you may need to layer.
How to make the Podliva (Sauce):
- Mix the remaining carrots with the sliced tomatoes and cream. Pour your sauce over them; the sauce should percolate through and completely cover the cabbage rolls. If it doesn’t, add a bit of water or tomato juice. Cover with any remaining cabbage leaves.
- Bake for 2-3 hours at 350°F. Check from time to time on sauce level; if it is getting low, add a bit of water to keep the edges of the holubtsi from burning.