2 lbs/ 1 kg combined ground pork/ beef
½ cup rice
1 large onionchopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large sour cabbage
700 ml tomato juice
10 slices smoked bacon
3-4 Bay Leaves
Salt and pepper
The Romanian word “sarma” is borrowed from the Turkish language – sarmak, where it means “to wrap, to wrap.” Sarmale is just that – cabbage (in this case, sour cabbage) wrapped around minced pork, rice and sometimes vegetables. Sarmale is a favourite in many eastern European households, with recipes passed down from generation to generation. It is safe to to say Sarmale always includes some kind of ground meat (typically a combination of pork and beef) and also rice, as well as traditional sour cabbage leaves. As it is a heavy food, it is most commonly preapared in winter, and served on polenta, sometimes with potatoes or bread, “cooled” with yogurt, cream, dill and horseradish.
How to Make Sarmale:
- Prepare the meat stuffing.
- Boil the rice till it’s almost ready. Set aside to cool
- Meanwhile chop the large onion. Sauté half of the quantity for a couple of minutes, saving the other half for later and set aside.
- In a large bowl mix all types of ground meat, add sauted onions and boiled rice, dried herbs, 1 teaspoon water, salt and pepper and mix well using your hands.
How to Make the Rolls:
- Remove gently not to break the cabbage leaves.
- You will only need the large leaves to make the rolls.
- The middle part will be chopped and added between cabbage rolls layers.
- Cut each large leaf in half, removing the tough core part too to make it easier to roll them.
- Add a tablespoon of ground meat mixture to each half leaf.
- Cover the filling with the edge from the base of the leaf. Bend edges on both sides and cover over the filling.
- Roll the stuffed cabbage leaf holding firm, so they won’t break during cooking time. Repeat these steps until you finish all of your group meat mixture.
- Roughly chop smaller leaves or some that broke during the rolling process and set aside.
- Place big saucepan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the rest of chopped onions for 2-3 minutes.
- Add part of chopped sour cabbage leaves and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Distribute the whole mixture on an even bottom layer and turn the heat to minimum.
- Start adding the rolls, creating a first level.
- Add some chopped smoked bacon, 2 bay leaves and some more chopped sour cabbage.
- Start creating the second level, putting rolls to the saucepan.
- When you finish the layer, add some more chopped sour cabbage on top, smoked bacon, another 2 bay leaves and some fresh thyme.
- Add half part sour cabbage juice and half part water to cover the rolls entirely.
- Place a lid on top of the saucepan and braise them on low heat for at least 2 hours, or bake in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.
- Serve hot immediately with sour cream on top.