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The winter is coming to an end here in the Sunshine State (I won’t rub it in that Roberto and I spent the weekend at the beach…), and before it gets too warm in the rest of the world, I thought I’d post about this wintery dish.

A few weekends ago we went to visit my mom. It was cold and gray and so she decided we were going to make stuffed cabbage rolls. This is an old family favorite. My Nana had two best friends as an adult -one was British and the other Liz, was what they called “Slovac”back in the old days. I am not sure if that means she is Polish, Czech, Ukrainian or something in between.

According to my mom, Liz always referred to these cabbage rolls as Halupky. Well, inevitably walking in my Nana’s footsteps, one of my best friends,  Jen also happens to be Polish and I knew quite a few people of Polish decent when I lived in Western Mass. Jen’s family and most of the polish people I know call cabbage rolls Golubki. So in honor of Jen, that is what I call it.

This is a simple dish to make and a rustic old school kind of thing, so I don’t really have exact measurements or anything. When I make Golubki, I tend to add some tomato paste to the broth because I really like that flavor and a thicker sauce. I also sautee onions and garlic and add that in the layers. When my mom makes it, she doesn’t use tomato paste, so the sauce, it is more of a broth.

If you are not big into meat, fear not, just fill the cabbage rolls with rice and tomatoes and skip the bacon. I used to make it this way when I was a vegetarian.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 large head of green cabbage boiled so the leaves are tender
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 cup rice, cooked
2 eggs
3 cups water
1 large can of peeled tomatoes in their juices
6 strips of bacon
1 can of sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
salt & pepper to taste

METHOD:

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Boil cabbage in a large stock pot until the leaves are tender. Make the rice and cool. Drain and dry the leaves. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl combine rice, ground meat and eggs. Mix together. Add salt and pepper. With your hands make small balls out of the stuffing.

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Roll this stuffing up into each cabbage leaf. Stack cabbage rolls in your stock pot or roasting pan. Once you have a layer of cabbage rolls, arrange a thin layer of sauerkraut on top as well as some chunks of bacon and squeeze tomatoes on top. Keep doing this until all your ingredients are used up.

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If you have leftover filling, just add the meatballs to the pot. When you finished pour the tomato juice on top as well as the two cups of water (if you are like me, this is where I add some tomato paste to the water before pouring it on top of the cabbage rolls). Put a lid on the pot, or tin foil and cook for about 3 hours or until cabbage is nice and tender. Serve with buttered bread. Servings: A LOT.