Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Getting the Jump on Christmas Food

My cookies are portioned into little balls and sitting in the freezer.  I'll bake them on Thursday.  My task list for Christmas dinner is taped to the refrigerator.  But I've already started eating some of the food.

Every holiday I cook lots of food and when it comes time to eat I usually have no interest in the food. Well, except for the dessert.  I'm just too worn out from planning, shopping, preparing, whatever.  So, this year I have a new approach.

Some food taste better if you make them ahead and let them sit.  Things like beef stew and chili are in this category of 'make-ahead'.  Another food is stuffed cabbage.

I have not made stuffed cabbage, golabki in Polish, in more years than I can remember.  I'm guessing at least 15 or more.  My kids never liked them so I only made them for work parties at Thanksgiving time.  This year, they are already made.  And tonight, (Tuesday as I write this), I had them for dinner. One cabbage roll, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut-mushroom-tomato sauce.  It was delicious.  Just one item to be enjoyed all on its own.

I've placed the others in a tray to reheat on Friday.  They should taste even better by then.

While the cabbage rolls were baking, I set my table with my Grandmother's china soup bowls and serving pieces.
My centerpiece for this year and a doll in Polish costume.
Grandma's china serving bowl:
There will only be six adults for dinner.  So, making the cabbage rolls did not take all day.  When we had dinner with my Grandmother there were tons of folks.  My grandparents, their four children, three spouses, eight grandchildren, my great-grandmother, my grandmother's sister and her husband, for starters.  The various other members of my grandmother's family would show up.  And cousins of my grandfather.  Dinner was served in the basement of their home at one of those really long folding tables.

This recipe for cabbage rolls makes twelve large rolls.  I am not printing all the steps since most information is available online.  But here is how I make mine:
Polish-Style Stuffed Cabbage Rolls -Golabki
o    Ingredients:
o    2 to 3 medium heads cabbage, or 1 large head
o    2 teaspoons vegetable oil
o    1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
o    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
o    1 cup uncooked white rice
o    2 eggs
o    4 slices sandwich bread, torn into pieces
o    enough milk to soak bread
o    1 lb ground pork and 1 lb ground beef ( or 2 lbs meat-loaf mix with veal if you can find it)
o    1 teaspoon salt
o    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
o    1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
o    2 tsp. fresh chopped parsley
o    2 lbs sauerkraut, drained and squeezed dry
o    1 can (26 to 28 ounce) whole tomatoes, undrained
o    3 cans (10 oz) tomato soup
o    2 cans (4 oz) mushrooms, drained

Prepare the cabbage: 
Remove the cores and outermost leaves from the cabbage.  Fill  a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Place the head of cabbage in the pot.  Remove the leaves as they become pliable enough to separate and roll and place in a large dish.  Continue preparing the cabbage leaves by removing them from the heads, layer by layer. Reserve the remaining cabbage for chopping.

Prepare the filling: 
Cook the rice per package directions and cool.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

Place the bread in a large bowl and add enough milk to soak and to make a panade.  Add the meat, eggs, onions  and rice.  Season with salt, pepper, thyme and parsley.  Using your hands, combine thoroughly, making sure that the seasonings and rice are evenly distributed throughout the meat.

Make the cabbage rolls.  
Basically, use a small knife to remove the rib from the cabbage.  Starting at core end, place meat on the cabbage and roll.  There are plenty of sites online that go into detail if you have never done it.

Prepare the sauce: 
In a very large bowl, a
dd the tomatoes and crush by hand.  Add the sauerkraut, mushrooms, and tomato soup and mix well.  

Bake the cabbage rolls: 
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Using a large Dutch oven, place a layer of leftover cabbage leaves and any chopped cabbage in the bottom of pan. Cover with a layer of sauerkraut-tomato-mushroom mixture. Layer cabbage rolls on top, keeping them close together.
Cover with a layer of sauce.
Place remainder of cabbage rolls on top.  Cover with remaining sauce.  Layer any leftover cabbage leaves over the top.  Place lid on pan.
Bake for 5 hours, checking midway through the cooking time to see if more tomato juice is needed to keep the rolls moist.
Just out of the oven:
What a wonderful dinner.  Tomorrow I am making the cheesecake, but will not taste it until Friday.


  1. That sounds delicious Denise. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I used to make cabbage rolls but haven't done so for years because Matt decided he didn't like them. He used to!!! However, I could make a batch and freeze them in individual servings. See how I feel after Christmas.

    1. Forgot to mention, I can get ground veal, only from one store, but I buy it for making tortière.

    2. I was astounded when I found the ground meatloaf mix with beef, veal and pork. Haven't seen it in stores for years. Hard enough to find ground veal. I like mine with more seasonings, but I am cooking to please everyone else. You know the drill.

  2. I wish I liked cabbage rolls more than I do. I am one that I can take them or leave them but I usually leave them:) My hubby dislikes them so I won't be making them but your recipe is delicious sounding might I add and lots of ingredients. I love your grandmother's soup bowl and love the Polish girl on the table

    1. Well, if no one goes crazy for them tomorrow, it may be the last time I make them for the family. I enjoy them, but there are Polish restaurants I can go to for a fix, lol.


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