Today is one of those melancholy days, the clouds shrouding the city in a blanket of grey and the only sound the pattering of rain upon the roof. My husband is away at a wedding in Austin while I am left here alone with my pager . . .so far a quiet partner.
Days like this tend to bring out my introspective side, and as I was strolling the aisles of the grocery store my thoughts turned to my grandma. She passed away many years ago when I was just a child, but her Lithuanian heritage has always intrigued me. Little did I know that I would end up marrying a half Lithuanian, half Slovenian man! I like to think that maybe she had something to do with bringing us together, and taking part is his family has somehow made me feel closer to her.
But while my mom's mother certainly had a reputation for being an amazing cook and entertainer, I have very few memories of ever eating her food. My mom always talks about having sarma around the holidays, and it has always intrigued me. My mother doesn't make it because my dad never did take a liking to it, so I figured I should give it a try myself. In my husband's family they call them Golabki, a Polish word for pigeon, but don't worry, there's no pigeon meat here! There are as many variations are there are homes in eastern europe, but after much internet research and quizzing of my relatives, here is a recipe I thought I'd start with.
There are some helpful photos and videos on the internet that demonstrate the rolling technique, I highly recommend checking them out if you've never done this before (like me).
Rolling these was actually pretty easy, they are just like mini cabbage burritos. The most important thing to get a good roll is to shave down the base of the stem of the leaf so that it bends easily. This can be easily done with a paring knife. Rolling them was kind of therapeutic, and gave me a chance to just enjoy the preparation and think about my grandma. If she were still here I think she'd like these . . .
Makes about 24 rolls depending on size of cabbage leaves
2 heads cabbage
white wine vinegar
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 lb ground veal
1 lb ground turkey
2 cups cooked brown rice (1 cup uncooked)
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced or crushed
1. Cut the core out of the bottom of both cabbages. Remove a couple of outer leaves and set aside.
2. Boil a pot full of water and add a couple Tbsp. of vinegar. Place one head of cabbage in at a time and remove cabbage leaves as the start to separate from the cabbage, place in colander. Continue until you get to inner part of cabbage and leaves are too small.
3. Saute onions and garlic in pan until translucent and soft.
4. Combine meat, onions, garlic and rice in bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Start with a large cabbage leaf, slice stem down so leaf lies flat. Place about 1/2 cup of meat toward bottom of leaf and roll like a burrito.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line Dutch oven with outer cabbage leaves.
7. Place cabbage rolls in pyramid like fashion in dutch oven. Cover with crushed tomatoes and additional water from boiling pot until just covered.
8. Cook in oven 60-90 minutes.