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Hungarian Tidbits

Hungarian Layered Savoy Cabbage

Have to warn in advance that this is a somewhat challenging dish. Not because difficult to make, but more so for the array of pots and pans that are used and have to be washed up afterwards. :-)  It’s all worthwhile at the end.
There are lots of similar recipes from Hungary, and these are the cosy, homely, smiley, “between friends” dishes using minced meat and rice with a vegetable stuffed, rolled, layered. There is a nearly identical version using cauliflower layered in a similar style or the stuffed cabbage recipe, usually prepared around Christmas. So here it is the somewhat humble but wholesomely delicious “rakott kel” – literally “stacked savoy”, or a suitably refined “Hungarian layered savoy cabbage”.


  • 2 medium savoy cabbage
  • 500 g (1lb 1.6oz) minced meat, traditionally pork – I used turkey here
  • 125 g (4.5 oz, 3/4 cup) uncooked white rice
  • 600ml of sour cream
  • 100g smoked streaky bacon – optional, thumbs up addition
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of Hungarian paprika
  • salt
  • freshly milled black pepper
  • level teaspoon of dried marjoram if got it..

How to make

  1. Remove the cabbage leaves.  One of the easy methods is to turn the cabbage upside down and cut the thick root of the leaves one buy one removing them from the stem.
  2. A bit more surgery required by taking out the harder middle part from the larger leaves by cutting a narrow v-shape into the middle of the leaf.
  3. Once the leaves prepared, place them in a large pan, cover with water, add a little salt and cook for 10 minutes, strain and set aside when ready.
  4. Meanwhile saute the finely chopped onion and crushed garlic in a little oil till lightly cooked.  Smoked streaky bacon excelerates this dish, if using sweat it on a low heat then add the onion and garlic.
  5. Add the seasoning and spices, salt, pepper, paprika powder, dried marjoram then finally the minced meat.  Stir, sizzle, cook for 5 minutes.
  6. In a separte pan cover the rice with a cup of water bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes, remove from the heat cover and let it rest a few minutes.  The rice shouldn’t be cooked completely, that’s OK, good infact.
  7. Once moderately cooled add the rice to the minced meat and onion mixture and work in evenely.
  8. Line a medium sized oven dish with half of the cooked cabbage leaves, just like laying out newspaper sheets.
  9. Disptribute the prepared minced meat and rice mixture on top then cover with the rest of the leaves similar style.
  10. Pour on half a glass of water on top , cover with a lid or tin foil and cook it in a 200C preheated oven for 20 mintes. There will be another 20 minutes cooking time after the following steps, so read on!
  11. Remove the tin foil and cover the whole dish with 400ml lightly salted sour cream.
  12. Cook now for a further 20 minutes on reduced heat till  the dish starts to get some colour and brown around the edges slightly.
  13. Take out the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. On a side note, the leftovers taste even better the next day warmed up.
  14. Serve with lashings of fresh sour cream and freshly milled black pepper.

5 thoughts on “Hungarian Layered Savoy Cabbage

    1. Hello David,
      Thanks for asking, you could use my photos on a website as long as they are referenced and backlinked to hungariantitbits.com but please don’t replicate them in a digital app, printed material or any commercial venture.

      Thank you & kind regards,

  1. Another method for the cabbage is to boil the cabbage whole. This method was used by my Mother for rolled/stuffed cabbage leaves. She used to cut around the core so that the leaves the larger outer leaves would pull away easily. The aim is NOT to cook the cabbage but to get the vegetable pliable so you can peel the leaves off easily. Take care not to be scalded and allow the cabbage to cool a little before handling.

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