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Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage – Töltött Káposzta

Hungarian stuffed cabbage

A typical winter dish that could be made with pork, beef or a mixture of both. There are slight differences preparing the dish across the regions of Hungary and according to family traditions. Some stuff savoy cabbage leaves instead of white cabbage, some use dill some doesn’t, many folks don’t pre-cook the rice for the stuffing letting the rice fully absorb all the flavours I like to pre-cook mine a little as makes the dish more juicy at the end.  Its a lovely meaty, soury-spicy, smoky, hearty meal, often prepared around Christmas time.

Ingredients – 4 persons

  • 500g ground meat (pork, beef or both)
  • 1 onion for the pot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 100 ml rice
  • 1 egg
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 3 tablespoons of paprika powder
  • 100g smoked streaky bacon
  • 450g sauerkraut
  • 8-10 leaf of cabbage
  • 1 onion for the stuffing
  • few springs of fresh or 1 teaspoon of dried dill (optional)

Stuffed cabbage how to make

How to make

  1. Start with preparing the rice: Fry a finely chopped onion and clove of crushed garlic in a little sunflower oil
  2. Add the rice and the same amount of water, in this case for 100ml of rice I added 100ml water, cover and cook till the rice absorbs the water, take off the heat, cover and let it cool
  3. Meanwhile peel off the outer large leaves of a cabbage, keeping them as whole as much as possible, if the central vein on the cabbage leaf is too thick making it difficult to roll the leaf later, shave it off with a sharp knife or cut out the lover part
  4. Cook the cabbage leaves in slightly salted water for 15 minutes, till tender but not mushy
  5. Combine the ground meat, rice with salt, pepper, a teaspoon of paprika powder and one egg
  6. Prepare the cabbage parcels by placing a tablespoon of stuffing on a cooked cabbage leaf, folding the sides and rolling it up into a neat parcel shape
  7. Assemble the dish in a large pot. First fry a chopped onion in a little sunflower oil, season with salt and a tablespoon of paprika powder, add a handful of finely chopped fresh cabbage and 1/3 of the sauerkraut. Lay out a few strips smoked streaky bacon then place in the cabbage parcels tightly. Add another layer of sauerkraut, one bay leaf salt and pepper. On top of this any remaining cabbage parcels, finally finish with a final layer of sauerkraut salt and pepper. Pour in just enough water to cover the whole dish and cook on low heat. After an hour check and add a bit more water if the dish looks too dry, sprinkle a tablespoon of paprika powder on top and cook for a further half an hour.
  8. The dish should not be stirred, could be gently shaken if necessary, slow cooking on low heat would prevent the paprika burning, check if the water needs topping up
  9. Serve with sour cream, this dish just gets better with reheating so the leftovers the next day might even be tastier.

5 thoughts on “Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage – Töltött Káposzta

  1. Got inventive once: ground up good quality Smoked Butt; mixed with veal, or beef, even a little lamb in there. Anyways, Mom was in from Florida, and tossed a few rolls to her. 5 minutes later she’ starting to tear up! I asked if I hurt her. She said the last time she tasted that; she was in Tiszalok, Szabolcz, Hungary, at age 5! “What did you put in here??? I told her “the Love”! then explained the smoked meat deal. You could use bacon , but the coarse chopped (my grinder blade) makes finished product very tender.

  2. Got inventive once: ground up good quality Smoked Butt; mixed with veal, or beef, even a little lamb in there. Anyways, Mom was in from Florida, and tossed a few rolls to her. 5 minutes later she’ starting to tear up! I asked if I hurt her. She said the last time she tasted that; she was in Tiszalok, Szabolcz, Hungary, at age 5! “What did you put in here??? I told her “the Love”! then explained the smoked meat deal. You could use bacon , but the coarse chopped smoked butt (my grinder blade) makes finished product very tender.

  3. What a lovely story, thanks for sharing! The smoked meats can really make this an authentic homely family eat. My grandmother always put a few pieces of smoked pork pieces at the bottom of the dish under the cabbage rolls.

    1. I told MOM that all the smoked Hocks and sausage outside of the rolls only makes the broth smokey! The salt and seasoning inside leach out into the broth. You have to put some smokey addendum inside to put this inside the roll. This rule applies to soups and stews, too. But… If you stuff poultry, use care. The salt will become a stronger concentration, than when you start baking it.

  4. Two cousins , Sandra & Linda were Erdely girls until they got married . Lilly (they’re mom) cooked early on in Massena N.Y. She was a Gabry’ they had a small restaurant/and Bar. Massena is a mill town, with 2 Aluminum smelting plants there. So, Hungry guys. Sandra picked up quick approach to cabbage dishes. Time is short and do Layered cabbage,with meat layers . G. Lang called one recipe sloppy cabbage, or Szekely cabbage, more (TransylvaniaN). The result is very authentic and works on a tight schedule. Throw some smokey , yummy pork pieces in here.

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