A portion of perfect food in the cold period of the year, but especially for the winter holidays, can only be the best Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls recipe. Made with some smoked pork ribs and served with sour cream on top, few people resist the temptation to devour this dish.
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In the traditional cuisine of Transylvania, a woman who knows how to make Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls means that she has become a perfect housewife who cooks well. That’s because the recipe is a little more complex than most others and requires little skill, but the result can lift you to glory.
How Many Types of Cabbage Rolls Recipes Are There?
Depending on the type of cabbage used, there are stuffed cabbage made from fresh cabbage or sauerkraut or pickled cabbage. Stuffed cabbage made with fresh cabbage is a summer recipe made with tomatoes or tomato broth, and the perfect recipe would be the best stuffed cabbage recipe.
Also, other leaves can be filled with the same filling as grape leaves or collard greens instead of cabbage, like in the best stuffed collard greens recipe.
The filling of these recipes is usually made from minced meat and rice, but it can also be made with mushrooms and rice, obtaining a vegetarian version.
Today we will make the version with sauerkraut stuffed with minced pork and rice but with smoked pork next to it in the pot. But let’s see the ingredients!
We need two heads of sauerkraut that you can find in stores with Eastern European products or sauerkraut leaves; those are good too.
We also usually use sliced sauerkraut, of which I will use about 400 g, but I will also put the small leaves remaining after I open the cabbage heads and which I will slice.
For the filling, we need minced meat, I will put 1 kg pork mince with at least 15% fat, but it is also possible with a mixture of pork and beef.
Also, for the filling, I will use two medium-sized yellow onions and about 400 g of rice. I found rice from Romania, especially for stuffed cabbage, but you can use any round-grain rice.
And let’s not forget to put something smoked in the pot because the Hungarian stuffed cabbage roll can’t do it without it. I found smoked pork ribs, from which I will use 350 g. But you can put smoked pork sausages or pork hock, and the condition is to be smoked naturally.
Preparing the Ingredients
Because we do not have many ingredients, their preparation does not require much time. We will start with the cabbage heads that we have to open the leaves. If we have to remove the core of the fresh cabbage first, for the sauerkraut, it is already cut.
We unfold the leaves individually and put them on each other until we reach the small leaves that cannot be filled and which we slice thinly. A little clarification, I usually taste the sauerkraut, and if it is too sour or too salty, I put it in cold water and rinse it well before filling it.
Peel the onions and finely chop them; put the rice in a strainer, rinse it in cold water, and let it drain.
I cut the smoked pork ribs into pieces so we could quickly put them in the pot. If you use pork sausages, also cut them into pieces, but not very small.
How to Make the Best Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe?
I will show you how to make Hungarian stuffed cabbage by going through three stages: we will make the filling first, then we will fill the cabbage leaves, and at the end, we will place them in the pot, and we will put the pot to boil. But let’s take them one at a time!
How to Make the Filling From Cabbage Rolls?
Because the recipe for the filling I use contains three basic ingredients, minced meat, rice and fried onions, we start frying onions first. To do this, heat 100 ml of sunflower oil in a saucepan and fry the chopped onion.
Season with a half teaspoon of sea salt and fry the onion until it softens and becomes glassy; it doesn’t have to change its colour; after which, I add a tablespoon and a half of Hungarian sweet paprika powder.
Stir, leave for another half a minute and be ready to turn off the heat.
In a bowl where we will make the filling, we first put the minced meat over which we pour the rinsed and drained rice.
Add the sauteed onion and season with a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, sea salt and a teaspoon of a vegetable mix for soups.
Mix all the ingredients well with a wooden spoon or even by hand until you get a homogeneous paste.
How to Fill the Cabbage Leaves?
This is the part that everyone is afraid of, but believe me, it is not very complicated; you need a little skill.
Take a cabbage leaf in your palm, and using a small knife, cut a thin sliver off the thickest central vein of each leaf.
Holding the cabbage leaf in our palm, we put a spoonful of filling on the leaf, with which we will fill it.
Fold the edges of the leaf over the filling and then roll the cabbage to the end of the leaf.
I inserted the ends of the roll inside with our fingers, and ready, we finished the first roll of stuffed cabbage.
We continue like this until we finish filling all the cabbage leaves and put them all on a plate, one on top of the other.
How to Arrange the Cabbage Rolls in the Pot
This technique of arranging the rolls depends on their number and size and the pot size in which we cook them. Because this recipe is made over low heat and for a long time, from the best Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls recipe, it is recommended to cook it in a cast-iron pot or clay pot, so it will turn out incredibly tasty.
Because I don’t currently have a clay pot for this recipe, I’ll make it in a five-litter cast iron pot where I will place a little sliced cabbage and a few pieces of smoked ribs on its bottom.
Now place the cabbage rolls one by one, starting from the edge of the pot inwards, leaving the middle of the pot for the ribs.
We continue the arrangement until we finish all the rolls on the plate, putting sliced cabbage and pork ribs between them, and at the end, we cover them with sliced cabbage.
How to Cook the Best Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe?
Pour cold water into the pot to cover the rolls, place the lid on and put the pot to boil, first over medium heat until the water starts to boil, then over low heat for about two hours.
If the pot is too big for the amount of stuffed cabbage, I usually put a smaller lid or a plate turned over the cabbage to stay as fixed as possible, not to spread during cooking.
You can put the pot in the oven at a low temperature of 140-150 degrees, and it will be just as delicious. If too much liquid evaporates, you can top it up with warm water.
This is the best Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls recipe ready to serve because you can smell this recipe’s aroma in the whole house, and the family is very hungry.
Frequently Ask Questions (F.A.Q.)
What are Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls made of?
Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls, or “töltött káposzta,” are traditional dishes made from cabbage leaves stuffed with a filling typically made of ground pork or beef, rice, onions, and spices. The exact ingredients and recipe can vary depending on the region and personal preference, but other common ingredients that may be used include paprika, garlic, tomato sauce, sauerkraut, and sour cream. They are often served with a dollop of sour cream on top and a side of crusty bread or boiled potatoes.
What is the best cabbage to use for Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls?
The best cabbage for Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls is typically a large, firm-headed cabbage with thin, flexible leaves that can be easily separated without tearing. Savoy cabbage is a popular choice because its leaves are tender and pliable. Still, regular green cabbage can also be used. Some Hungarian recipes specifically call for “sour cabbage,” a fermented cabbage with a tangy, acidic flavour. If you can find sour cabbage, it can add a unique flavour.
Why is the cabbage on my cabbage rolls tough?
If the cabbage on your cabbage rolls is tough, there are a few possible reasons why this may be the case:
Undercooked cabbage: If the leaves were cooked longer before stuffing and baking, they might be tricky and difficult to chew. To avoid this, blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water for a few minutes until they are tender and pliable before stuffing them.
Overcooked cabbage: On the other hand, it can become mushy and lose its texture if cooked too long.
Thick or coarse cabbage leaves: Some types of cabbage have thick or coarse leaves that can be tough even when cooked properly. If you are using this type of cabbage, try removing some of the more rigid outer leaves and using only the more tender inner leaves for your cabbage rolls.
Stale cabbage: Cabbage sitting in the fridge for too long can become tough and unpleasant to eat. Make sure to use fresh cabbage that is still crisp and firm.
Poor cabbage: It may be tough and difficult to work with if it is poor quality or past its prime. Try to use fresh, high-quality cabbage for the best results.
Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls are usually served hot as a main dish. Here are a few ideas for doing them:
- Sauce: Hungarian cabbage rolls are often served with a tomato-based sauce poured over the top. This sauce can be made from canned or crushed tomatoes, with additional seasonings such as paprika, garlic, and onion.
- Sides: Traditional Hungarian side dishes with cabbage rolls include boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, or rice. You can also serve a simple green salad or pickled vegetables on the side.
- Toppings: Sour cream is a popular topping for Hungarian cabbage rolls. You can also sprinkle chopped parsley or dill over the top for extra flavour and colour.
- Bread: Crusty bread, such as a baguette or a sourdough loaf, is a great accompaniment to soak up the sauce and juices from the cabbage rolls.
Overall, serving Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls is a personal preference, so feel free to experiment with different sauces, sides, and toppings to find the combination you like best.
If you have decided to cook the best Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls recipe, and you are passionate about cabbage recipes, I recommend the following recipes from our blog:
- Delicious Cabbage Casserole Recipe
- Vegan Cabbage and Pasta Recipe
- Beef and Cabbage Stew Recipe
- Best Cabbage Soup Recipe
- Sauerkraut Sausage Soup Recipe
- Cabbage Soup With Pork Meat
- Frankfurter Soup With Savoy Cabbage
Best Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
- 1 Dutch oven pot
- 2 pieces pickled cabbage head sauerkraut
- 400 g pickled sliced cabbage
- 1 kg pork mince 15% fat
- 2 pieces onions medium size
- 400 g rice round grain
- 350 g smoked ribs or smoked sausage
- 2 teaspoons sea salt kosher
- 1+1/2 tbsp paprika powder sweet Hungarian
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon vegetable mix for soup
- Unfold the leaves one by one and put them on top of each other.
- Peel the onions and finely chop them and put the rice in a strainer and rinse it in cold water and let it drain.
- Cut the smoked pork ribs into pieces so we could easily put them in the pot.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan and fry the chopped onion. Season with a half teaspoon of sea salt and fry the onion until it softens and becomes glassy after, add the Hungarian sweet paprika powder.
- In a bowl, first put the minced meat over which we pour the rinsed and drained rice.
- Add the sauteed onion and season with freshly ground pepper, sea salt and vegetable mix for soups.
- Mix all the ingredients well with a wooden spoon or even by hand until you get a homogeneous paste.
- Take a cabbage leaf in your palm and using a small knife, cut a thin sliver off the thickest central vein of each leaf.
- Holding the cabbage leaf in the palm, we put a spoonful of filling on the leaf, with which we will fill it.
- Fold the edges of the leaf over the filling and then roll the cabbage to the end of the leaf.
- Insert the ends of the roll inside with our finger and ready, we finished the first roll of stuffed cabbage.
- Continue like this until we finish filling all the cabbage leaves and we put them all on a plate one on top of the other.
- Place a little sliced cabbage and a few pieces of smoked ribs on its bottom.
- Put the cabbage rolls one by one, starting from the edge of the pot inwards, leaving the middle of the pot for the ribs.
- Continue the arrangement until we finish all the rolls on the plate, putting sliced cabbage and pork ribs between them, and at the end, we cover with sliced cabbage.
- Pour cold water into the pot to cover the rolls.
- Place the lid on and put the pot to boil, first over medium heat until the water starts to boil, then over low heat for about two hours.
- Served hot, with a little sour cream on top and necessarily with fresh bread.