Start by cutting out the core of a head of green cabbage and putting it hole side down in a big pot of salted boiling water with the lid on. Put on medium high and let boil for about an hour.
Take a pack of 500 gram ground meat, (pork, beef or turkey) add 1 cup of rice, an egg, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, and a finely chopped onion. Mix by hand.
Once the cabbage leafs are falling apart, take one leaf at a time and fill with 1-2 spoons of meat, roll into pillow shapes with the corners tucked in and place seam face-down in a deep basting dish (one with a lid). A Dutch oven is perfect, but you can use a roasting pan with aluminum foil on top it that is all you have.
Hungarian style cabbage rolls have layers with sauerkraut and smoked meat in between.
To prepare the sour kraut, first brown one finely chopped onion in oil on medium heat until translucent or golden, add 1-2 crushed garlic and stir until brown, add 1 tablespoon paprika, and add your drained sour kraut and mix together. It should now have a reddish tinge. In between each layer of cabbage-rolls, add in your sour kraut mixture.
Add smoked meat to each layer: sausage, bacon or pork-hocks. Add 2-3 cups of water , just under the food line, cover and place in oven. Bake your cabbage rolls between 350-375 degrees for about 1&1/2 hours, or until the rice is fully cooked. Take off the lid to brown the top and serve with sour cream and fresh bread.
The flavors of the smoked meat seep into the cabbage rolls as it cooks. The onions and sauerkraut take on their own flavour. Alfonz loves the sauce or the ‘soft’ on the bottom and dips his bread in as he eats. When I reheat this dish, the water gets absorbed by the rice, and I add extra water to create more ‘soft’ for Alfonz.
If you do not like sauerkraut you can always make cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.
Eva’s Tip- Add your tomato sauce after the cabbage rolls are fully cooked or your rice will not cook through from the acidity of the tomatoes.
Alternatively, try V-8 juice over your sauerkraut cabbage rolls the last few minutes of cook time. The cabbage takes on another level of flavour.
The best part- you can make these on the stovetop and skip the green cabbage all together. If you love sauerkraut (Shannon), try making the meat mixture into balls and placing in a large stovetop pot and simmer with smoked meat in between sauerkraut layers. Total cook time is 1 hour for this one and your prep time is substantially less when you do not roll the cabbage leaves.