This layered sauerkraut casserole with pork mince and rice is an old recipe from Transylvania that you will surely fall in love with if you taste it. In this recipe, we use almost the same ingredients as in the best Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls recipe, the difference is that we will not fill and roll the sauerkraut, but we will place the ingredients in layers.
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Known as “Varza à la Cluj” (Cluj-type cabbage) or “Kolozsvari Rakott Kaposzta” (Cluj layered cabbage), this recipe first appeared at the end of the 17th century in a recipe book printed in Cluj, but at that time, rice was not yet known in the region. The recipe we will make together is from my family but is very close to the modern recipe in the region.
The recipe has three essential ingredients: sauerkraut, minced pork and rice, to which we will add some onions and sour cream at the end. For six large portions, I will use 1200 g of good quality sauerkraut, which you can find in stores with specific Eastern European and in hypermarkets preserved in a jar.
I need 800 g of minced pork or a mixture of pork and beef, but it must also contain some fat; the dish will be tastier and juicier.
I will also use 300 g of uncooked rice and two large yellow onions, half of which I will prepare with the sauerkraut and one and a half I will cook with the minced meat.
Preparing the Ingredients
Before assembling the casserole in layers, we must prepare the ingredients, i.e., cook them beforehand, so we take them one at a time.
Cooking the Rice
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and fry the rice first. Mix with a wooden spoon and fry for about a minute until it becomes a little transparent, and then add the water.
Usually, you add as much as twice the amount of rice in the water, so if we put 300 g (1.5 cups) of rice, we add 800 ml (3 cups) of water. Season with one teaspoon of sea salt and boil for 20 minutes or until cooked and it becomes soft.
If the rice has boiled, set it aside to cool until we mount the layered sauerkraut casserole, and until then, we continue with the rest of the ingredients.
Cooking the Sauerkraut
Preparing the Onion and Sauerkraut
To prepare sauerkraut, I will use only half of the onion that I will chop finely.
I do the same with sauerkraut, which, although cut thin, is often very long, so we need to chop them smaller.
Heat three tablespoons of sunflower oil in a soup pot and fry half the chopped onion. Fry it for about a minute at medium temperature until it softens, and add a teaspoon of sweet paprika.
Now we can add the sauerkraut, mix it with the sautéed onion and let it fry for two minutes to combine the flavours.
Pour enough water over the cabbage to cover it (I put 700 ml) and simmer it over medium heat for half an hour.
I let the sauerkraut boil without a lid so the water could evaporate, after which I seasoned it with a teaspoon of dried savory herb and half a teaspoon of caraway powder.
Lightly mix the sauerkraut with the spices, and if it is cooked, take it off the heat and set it aside until you mount the dish.
Frying the Pork Mince
We still have to cook the meat, so I will first finely chop an onion and a half. Heat three tablespoons of sunflower oil in a larger frying pan and sauté the chopped onion with a teaspoon of sea salt.
After three minutes, when the onion has softened, add the minced pork and fry it a little together with the onion until it acquires a whitish colour.
Season the meat with a teaspoon of marjoram, a teaspoon of caraway powder, half a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, two tablespoons of tomato paste, a teaspoon of vegetable mix and a tablespoon of Hungarian sweet paprika.
Mix everything lightly, add 300 ml of water (1.25 cups) and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes until the meat is cooked and the water evaporates.
If the meat is ready, let it cool down, and we can start assembling the layered sauerkraut casserole.
How to Make the Layered Sauerkraut Casserole?
Choose a baking tray; it can be made of heat-resistant glass or stainless steel roasting pan as I chose; it is essential to have higher edges because there will be more layers.
Grease the baking tray with two tablespoons of sunflower oil and place half of the sauerkraut quantity in the first layer.
Over the sauerkraut, you will put half of the boiled rice, forming the second layer of the dish.
The third layer will be the amount of minced meat you will spread over the entire surface.
In reverse order, add the rest of the boiled rice, which will be the fourth layer.
We will finish with the last layer, the sauerkraut, adding the other half.
On top, I will spread 300 ml of sour cream, which will get a golden colour after baking and give a unique taste to the dish.
Baking the Casserole
Put the tray in the preheated oven at 200 C ( 392 F) for only 30 minutes until the cream takes on colour; they have to combine their flavours because the ingredients have already been cooked.
Remove the tray from the oven and let it cool a bit so you can remove the beautiful slices from the tray and that’s it; this was my layered sauerkraut casserole recipe, and I highly recommend you to try it.
Put a slice of layered sauerkraut casserole on a plate, add a tablespoon of sour cream or Greek yoghurt, and you’ll get a divine dinner with a cold beer.
Both cabbage and sauerkraut are primary ingredients in Hungarian cuisine so that I can recommend other Hungarian Cabbage recipes on our blog from these ingredients, such as:
- Pork and Sauerkraut Goulash
- Sauerkraut Sausage Soup Recipe
- Vegan Cabbage and Pasta Recipe
- Best Cabbage Soup Recipe
- Best Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
- Turkey Cabbage Stew Recipe
- Mediterranean Cabbage Salad Recipe
Layered Sauerkraut Casserole
- 1 Saucepan
- 1 Soup Pot
- 1 baking tray
- 1200 g sauerkraut
- 800 g pork mince
- 2 pieces onion
- 300 g rice
- 10 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 tsp sea salt kosher
- 4 tsp paprika Hungarian sweet
- 1 tsp marjoram dried
- 1.5 tsp caraway powder
- ½ tsp ground pepper freshly ground
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp vegetable mix
- 1 tsp savory
- 300 ml sour cream
- 1800 ml water
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the rice for about a minute until it becomes a little transparent, and then add the water. Season with sea salt and boil for 20 minutes or until cooked and it becomes soft.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a soup pot, fry half the chopped onion for about a minute at medium temperature, and add the sweet paprika. Add the sauerkraut, mix it with the sautéed onion and let it fry for two minutes.
- Pour enough water over the cabbage to cover it and simmer it over medium heat for half an hour. Season it with dried savory herb and caraway powder.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a larger frying pan and sauté the chopped onion with sea salt. After three minutes, add the minced pork and fry it a little together with the onion until it acquires a whitish colour.
- Season the meat with marjoram, caraway powder, freshly ground pepper, tomato paste, vegetable mix and the Hungarian sweet paprika. Mix everything lightly, add water and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- Grease the baking pan with sunflower oil and place half of the sauerkraut quantity in the first layer. Over the sauerkraut, put half of the boiled rice, forming the second layer of the dish. The third layer will be the whole amount of minced meat that you will spread over the entire surface.
- In reverse order, add the rest of the boiled rice, the fourth layer. You will finish with the last layer, the sauerkraut, add the other half of it and on top, spread the sour cream.
- Put the tray in the preheated oven at 200 C ( 392 F) for only 30 minutes until the cream will take on colour.