Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Töltött Káposzta)
Winter is the season for hearty Hungarian dishes. Cabbage is a favorite winter food that can be prepared in many delicious ways. Stuffed cabbage is one of the most popular classics and it usually makes the Christmas and New Year’s Eve menus in most homes. Preparation varies according to region and family, people prepare them not only on the stovetop, but also in the oven. Stuffed cabbage rolls come in many variations, the filling can be ground beef, pork, or chicken, the sauce can be plain or tomato based and adding smoked meat and/or sausage will only enhance the flavor. It is even better reheated. Here is my recipe:
Recipe for 4 people:
1000 g sauerkraut (2.2 pound, 4 cups)
8 pickled (or boiled) cabbage leaves
250 grams (8.8 ounces) of minced pork
2 cloves of garlic – minced
2 medium onions – finely chopped
50 grams (1.8 ounces) of uncooked rice
3 tablespoons of sweet paprika powder
2 teaspoons of ground caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
2 level tablespoons of flour
1 level coffee spoon of ground black pepper
Vegetable oil or pork lard
In a medium pot, sauté the onions in lard or vegetable oil over low heat, stirring frequently, until translucent. Do not let them burn. Salt lightly to help tenderize them. The onion should be cut into very, very small pieces. Add a small amount of water, if necessary, to prevent sticking to the pan.
Remove the pot from the heat, add 1.5-2 tablespoons of sweet Hungarian paprika, stir well. Go by the color, if it is pale, rather orange than red, add a bit more paprika. Do not burn the paprika or it will become bitter. Half of the paprika onions will stay in this pot, the other half will be mixed with the minced pork.
In a bowl combine the minced pork, egg, rice, garlic, half of the paprika onions, ground black pepper, and salt to taste.
Flatten the cabbage leaves or remove the thick stalks from the center. Form 8 meatballs. Place 1 ball on each leaf, and roll it up firmly, folding the edges under.
Rinse the sauerkraut under running water.
Spread half the sauerkraut over the rest of the paprika-onion mixture and stir up. Add the bay leaf, sprinkle with 1 level tablespoon of flour and one 1 teaspoon of ground caraway seeds.Place the cabbage rolls on top and cover them with the remaining sauerkraut. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika powder, the 1 level tablespoon of flour and 1 teaspoon of ground caraway seeds.
Pour water over (about 2 cups or a bit less). The water should not cover the sauerkraut, but when you press it with a wooden spoon, you should see the water.
Cover and put it in the preheated oven (180°C/350F) and cook for about 2 hours.
Serve with sour cream.