The heart of my childhood home was the kitchen. Warm and filled with wonderful smells, I spent many a late afternoon sitting at the table watching or helping my mother cook. My mother was an excellent baker, we always had fabulous pies and cookies at holiday time and pretty cakes on our birthdays. She also enjoyed swapping recipes with her bingo buddy ladies who were mostly of eastern-European and middle eastern heritage.
In the fall and winter months, my mom would make one of my favorite meals, Galumpkis (Polish stuffed cabbage rolls) which everyone in town called "pigs in a blanket". The smell of these little bundles cooking takes me right back to her kitchen. They are the ultimate cool weather comfort food.
Over the years, I have modified Mom's recipe a bit. My mother used uncooked rice and meat and simmered the rolls in a dutch oven on the stove in a sweet and sour tomato sauce until done. The smell was heavenly! When I am in a hurry, I cook everything before stuffing. Galumpkis are also a great way to use up leftover rice and bits of vegetables. Just chop it up, roll it and bake... easy peasy.
There is no right or wrong way to make these, you can just use the stuffing that you like and the sauce that you like and you are sure to produce a hearty delicious meal. Vegans take heart, just leave out the meat and substitute your favorite beans and favorite spices.
What I used:
1 medium chopped onion
3 lg cloves garlic minced
1/2 of a red pepper chopped
1 cup chopped red cabbage
3/4 cup chopped oyster mushrooms
1lb ground beef
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups cooked rice
32 oz seasoned tomato sauce
Big pot of boiling water (enough to cover the cabbage head)
Prepare your tomato sauce the way you like it. If you want, you can use your favorite prepared tomato sauce from a can or jar. You can even use your favorite pasta sauce.
My sauce is made from scratch using a large (28 oz) can of Fattoria Fresca brand crushed vine ripened tomatoes, sauteed onions, garlic, Italian herbs and a splash of red wine (whatever is on hand). From time to time, I make up a batch and keep it in the freezer until needed.
CABBAGE LEAF PREP
You will need to prepare your cabbage leaves by removing the leaves. Reserve damaged leaves for another dish. The cabbage I used had very big loose leaves and most came right off. Yours may not and you may have to blanch the whole head to get them off.
Fear not! An easy way to do this is to use a small sharp knife and cut around and remove the core. (Some leaves might come off easily then) Carefully place the head of cabbage in the boiling water and let it blanch for abut 5 minutes. Remove from the water and carefully pull leaves off. For those of you without asbestos fingers, use tongs to peel back the leaves. If your leaves came off without blanching, just place them in the boiling water for a few minutes until softened. Cool by running under cold water. Your leaves are now softened and ready to use.
If the stem is thick and very hard, you can remove it by cutting out a little V. They will be easier for you to roll them up .
Preheat oven to 375 F
Saute onions, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, chopped red cabbage together in a bit of olive oil until onions are translucent. Add ground beef , herbs and spices and and cook until beef is no longer pink. Spoon off excess oil. Add rice and mix well. You should taste it at this point and adjust seasonings to your liking. I always end up adding more pepper and garlic powder. You can add just about anything!
When it tastes great, spoon mixture on leaves and roll up from the bottom, tucking the sides in. Be careful not to add too much because they will be difficult to roll.
Spoon a bit of tomato sauce down on the bottom of the baking dish and place your piggy seam side down on the sauce. Arrange the piggies in the dish and cover with the remaining sauce. Cover baking dish (use aluminum foil if you need a quick lid) and cook for about 30 minutes.