Gołąbki: Polish Cabbage Rolls

Gołąbki with tomatoes and sauce.

Gołąbki with tomatoes and sauce.

Gołąbki are Polish cabbage rolls. I’m of Polish heritage, on my father’s side, and have enjoyed this very common, traditional dish, but hadn’t previously tackled preparation myself. As it turns out, it can be done in about 2 hours preparation time, and 2 hours cooking time. “Gołąbki” is the plural Polish word for pigeon, and is a apparently based on the resulting size of the rolls. To an English speaker, it is pronounced like one would say “gawumpki.”

The occasion that caused me to make gołąbki was that we have a Polish graduate student visiting for a summer internship at my work, and I thought he might like some taste of home… given that our Polish-named staples here in the U.S., such as Polish pickles or Polish sausage, are nothing like he knows from home. It also helped put a good dent in our CSA share of vegetables in that it uses a head of cabbage and my, unusual, vegetarian version also used a fennel bulb.

There are many preparation techniques for gołąbki, some involving pan frying and then boiling or steaming them. I chose to use this recipe as the basis for my gołąbki, which simply has you to bake them, covered, in a 350° F oven for 2 hours.

The filling for the meat-based gołąbki was a combination of the following:

  • 1 cabbage, medium
  • about 2 pounds raw ground pork sausage (I used Italian sausage, or what we call Italian sausage in the states)
  • 2 cups cooked rice, with some butter added during cooking, cooled
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • garlic cloves, minced, sautéed in butter
  • 1 large onion, diced, sautéed in butter
  • butter
  • marjoram
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce

For the vegetarian gołąbki I used the above except substituted the following for the ground meat:

  • chopped fennel bulb, sautéed until tender
  • chopped mushroom, lightly sautéed

For the fillings, mix the above (except for butter, tomatoes and tomato sauce), in a large bowl similar to the way one makes meatballs; cover and refrigerate until ready to fill and roll the cabbage leaves.

To prepare the cabbage leaves, I followed the method show in this video. That is, I brought a large pot of water to very low boil, enough water so that the whole cabbage head could just be submerged. Then removed the core of the cabbage leaves, and boiled it slowly, carefully removing the leaves one by one with tongs and cooled them on a cutting board. It’s important to remove the core complete so that the leaves can separate as they soften and loosen while boiling.

Once the leaves were prepared, cutting out some of the cabbage leaves’ “stem” if it’s too difficult to roll, I filled them with an amount of filling proportional to the size of the leaf (from 1 Tablespoon to 2 or more), and rolled them by folding the sides first, and rolling them, typically with the more substantial base of the leaf toward the outside of the roll.  After rolling, I packed them fairly tightly in a baking dish. (Use a separate baking dish for the meat and vegetarian gołąbki if you make both.)

Gołąbki before cooking.

Gołąbki before cooking.

Once the baking dishes are filled, pour the diced tomato and tomato sauce over the top, spreading evenly, and sprinkle again with marjoram.  Cover the dishes tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 350° F oven for 2 hours.

Gołąbki, ready to be covered and baked.

Gołąbki, ready to be covered and baked.

Once cooked, let the gołąbki sit and cool a bit and serve them, accompanied by a dollop of sour cream if you like.

Gołąbki with tomato sauce, served with sour cream.

Gołąbki with tomato sauce, served with sour cream.

I really enjoyed making and eating these.These are also nice left-over, even frozen and reheated as necessary; this is a good thing, since it’s best to make quite a large batch given the work. My Polish student friend liked them, but rated them as spicier than his grandmother’s version. (That was by design, in that I used a medium spicy Italian sausage rather than the typical blander combination of ground pork and beef that most gołąbki recipes call for.)  He also noted that they leave the tomato sauce to be added only after cooking.

Here are some related recipes and a video I referenced:

Pasta with Salmon & Cabbage


Pasta with Salmon & Cabbage

Here’s an easy and healthy pasta dish!

Ingredients: 1/3 pound pasta (dry), canola oil and rice vinegar (equal parts, 2-3 T. each), 1/4 medium head of green cabbage (shredded), 1 1/2 t. fennel seeds, ~1/2 pound boneless salmon pieces (fresh), salt and black pepper, splash of Pastis or some other anise-flavored liquor (optional).

I used Mrs. Miller’s brand Old Fashioned Extra Wide Homemade Noodles and fresh salmon pieces painstakingly trimmed from fin and bone pieces ($1.49/lb.) that I bought to (simultaneously) make fish stock for soup.

Prepare the pasta as directed.  When the pasta has perhaps 5 minutes left, lightly sauté cabbage in vinegar and oil (and Pastis) in pan over medium high heat, i.e., tender but not completely limp.  Add fennel and stir in raw salmon so it cooks slightly.  Add black pepper and salt; mix in drained hot pasta, stir lightly and remove from heat when salmon is cooked to your liking.  I served this topped this with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of dried dill.

Adapted from this recipe: Salmon Fettuccine Cabbage

Spicy Cornmeal-crusted Catfish

Spicy Cornmeal-crusted Catfish

Pan-fried catfish fillets are one of my favorites. Here the catfish is dipped in an egg/milk wash and coated with cornmeal, seasoned with crushed rosemary, oregano, thyme, turkish paprika, cayenne powder, salt and pepper and pan-fried. Topped with a sauce of mayonnaise, hot pepper sauce, minced cilantro leaves, and lime juice.

Accompanied by roasted potato stacks (sweet and russet potato, with olive oil, garlic, salt and peper, sprinked with thyme leaves) and sautéed red cabbage and spinach, with pine nuts, and tossed with a mustard vinaigrette dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and black pepper).

Here are some related recipes:
“Roasted Potato Stacks”

“Red Cabbage and Warm Spinach Salad”

Certified Yummly Recipes on Yummly.com

UPDATE: The recipe search site Yummly selected this recipe of mine and dubbed my blog “Certified yummly.” :)

“Kickin’ Catfish Recipes for National Catfish Day”

UPDATE (March, 2014): Here’s another nice version from ThingsMyBellyLikes.com!
Southern-Style Fried Catfish

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos are one of my favorite dishes at restaurants, so lately I’ve been preparing them myself!

Red Cabbage Slaw: Toss finely sliced red cabbage with a citrus onion vinegrette dressing. Prepare dressing, in a blender, by pureeing ingredients: sweet onion pieces, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, celery seed. (Alternatively use orange juice rather than lemon and reduce amount of sugar.)

Pico de Gallo: Mix diced tomato, finely diced sweet onion, diced ripe avocado, finely diced jalapeno or serrano pepper (seeds removed), lime juice, mexican oregano, salt.

Fish: Here I used catfish chunks; tilapia, salmon, or shrimp are also good choices. Dip either strips of fillet or slightly larger-than-bite-sized fish pieces in an egg wash and coat with a spiced flour mixture, e.g. spiced with: salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, perhaps a touch of cayenne. (I like to use Morton brand “Nature’s Seasons” which is a salt blend including onion, celery, and parsley as well. This time I also used a touch of a spice blend called Vulcan’s Fire Salt: http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/Vulcans-Fire-Salt Be sure to limit additional salt if you use salt-based blends.)
Alternatively, you can use a cajun blackening spice rub rather than an egg/flour batter.
Pan fry and place on paper towels to draw oil.

Assemble tacos in warmed corn tortillas at the table to your liking.
Here I also added sour cream; you may like cheese instead.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Garlic Mashed Yellow Potatoes

OK, this was an easy to prepare, so perhaps not worth describing, but I’d never made it before and it’s always been one of my favorites.

I bought the brisket already brined and used the included pickling spices so can’t take credit other than taking it out at the right time: ~3 hours total at 350°F (4 lbs). The cabbage was in just for the last half hour.

I prepared half the cabbage separately with cumin seed and smoked paprika… if you like cumin, that was a pretty good addition.

Served with Garlic Mashed Yellow Potatoes.