CABBAGE ROLLS – Töltöt Káposzta

stuffed cabbage rolls
CABBAGE ROLLS – Töltöt Káposzta

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are a Classic Hungarian dish that almost everyone world-wide recognizes. No wedding celebration would be complete without large pots of these tightly rolled bundles of meat and rice held by soft wrappers of cabbage. The rolls lay in a bed of silky sauerkraut with hints of smoky bacon. Cabbage and sauerkraut combine to make a mellow dish. Once you sample this dish, you are hooked! When we were growing up, we preferred the Cabbage Rolls in tomato sauce – that way we were able to smother the bread with sour cream and dip it into the juice and cabbage pieces. My dad preferred a more smoky bacon flavour without the tomato. In order to please everyone, mom prepared it both ways. On one occasion, she came up with a brilliant compromise; she combined both ingredients. It was partially tomato flavour, and partially smoked bacon and sauerkraut. We all loved it and she has made it in this way since then.


¾ lb each of ground pork, beef & veal
1 cup long grain rice*
1 head green cabbage
1 large onion
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp sweet paprika
⅛ tsp hot Paprika
28 oz Sauerkraut
28 oz tomato juice
2 cups water

Roux (Rántás)
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp bacon fat
½ pt sour cream, garnish

Stuffing/Filling: Grate and sauté onion slightly in a little bacon grease – cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine the following: onions, meat and rice and seasonings. Cabbage Leaves: In a large 6 qt boiling pot of water, place cored cabbage. Pierce centre with a long roasting fork and hold immersed in boiling water. As cabbage steams, the outer leaves start to peel away. Encourage peeling using a large wooden spoon, pushing each leaf down into the boiling water and keep peeling leaves until all are pulled away from the core. When complete, remove all leaves carefully into colander and drain. Then, place all leaves on cutting board. Sort leaves by placing all equal sized leaves together. Trim off thick, middle vein with a sharp paring knife being careful not to tear the cabbage leaf. Larger leaves cut into 2 for smaller rolls. Also, smaller leaves are cut in large juliennes to line the pot.

Rolling: Take 1 leaf at a time, and place 2 tbsp seasoned meat/rice mixture in centre. Roll lengthwise ½ ways and then fold left leafy side over middle. Continue rolling and then tuck right leafy loose end inside with fingers.

Pot Assembly: Start by placing cabbage pieces in bottom of large pan along with 1/3 of the sauerkraut and bits of thickbacon including rind. Add smoked rib or pork hock and/or bacon rinds to the bottom of the cooking pot as well before cabbage rolls. Smokey favours will come up through the pot. Continue in this fashion until all leaves are rolled and placed into the pot. Cover with more cabbage pieces and sauerkraut if desired. Add tomato juice and water to cover. Simmer about 1½ hours on medium heat. Test 1 roll. Remove from heat.

Roux- Rántás: Melt fat and add flour and paprika. Add water and stir until smooth consistency. Add roux back into cabbage pot. You may have to pour off some of the liquid into a small saucepan and cream the thickener from there. Do not stir rolls; just shake the pot so that the sauce penetrates in between the rolls. Serve with fresh bread and generous servings of sour cream. Yield – 24-28 cabbage rolls. Larger cabbage leaves can be cut into ½ to create more uniform sized cabbage rolls.

Soured Cabbage Version: Instead of fresh cabbage you can use soured cabbage (sold fresh out of the barrel at some delis or sealed in a plastic bag. Leaves are more pliable, but you need to rinse thoroughly – it may be quite tangy for most palates. Also – omit 28 oz sauerkraut – you can cut up left over cabbage pieces to place in pot bottom. Less fuss and more flavour in my opinon.Note: Delicious the next day as flavours meld. Freezes well for 3-6 months. *Mom claims that red cabbage is never used for cabbage rolls, otherwise – both are fair game in most dishes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *