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Golumpki (Polish Stuffed Cabbage) Recipe

Poland may not be the first country that springs to mind when thinking of countries known for their food, but if  you  grew up in or near traditional Polish neighborhoods you will  recall the aroma of freshly baked rye bread coming from Polish bakeries and that mouth-watering, smoky, garlicky scent of kielbasa wafting into the street from Polish sausage shops.

If you grew up with Polish food in your family, you may fondly recall steaming platters of pierogi (filled dumplings) and golumpki (stuffed cabbage rolls) brought to the table by your mothers, grandmothers or aunts. For me, I have memories of my grandmother hard at work in the kitchen to put together what seemed like a Polish festival every time we got together. Though I was only 10 when she passed away, I have wonderful memories of her generous soul, and of her delicious golumpkis.

My husband and I  recently got together with friends, who shared similar memories of Polish foods they hadn’t had in years, and we decided to pool our efforts  and have our own little Polish festival at home, each making something to contribute to the meal.

Here’s a look at our menu:

Mizeria, or cucumber salad. This chilled salad is composed of thinly-sliced cucumbers, sprigs of dill, and chopped onion in a sour cream and lemon juice dressing.

Pieroogi  dumplings filled with farmer’s cheese and onions

Golumpki cabbage rolls filled with ground meat and rice

Kielbasa a highly seasoned sausage made from pork and flavored with garlic

Chrusciki lightly fried pastry cookies dusted with powdered sugar

To drink: Zywiec Polish beer

Half of what made this evening so much fun was the sharing we did. For most, this  included talking to family members who had recipes hand written on scraps of paper, or who had recalled the recipes by phone as best they could.

As we sat around the table, we talked about the memories we had as kids, and somehow tasting all those delicious foods again took us back in time. Sometimes these are the dinner parties that end up being the most enjoyable; where everyone gets to share a bit about their growing up years and can tell  a story to go with it.

So what about you? Do you have a Polish food memory?

There are so many variations in the recipes. I would love to see what you have out there. Feel free to share your stories or links  to something you’ve posted in the comments sections.

Golumpkis

I adapted a healthier version of my grandmother’s recipe, using ground turkey and brown basmati rice.

1 large head cabbage, cored

Filling:

1 cup brown basmati rice

2 1/2 cups water

1 (15-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 pound ground turkey

1 28-ounce can tomato puree

Place cored cabbage into a large pot of boiling water. After just a few minutes, the cabbage leaves will begin to loosen. Seperate the cabbage leaves, and remove them from the pot as they come off and place on a paper towel lined tray to drain.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add onions and garlic, cooking until the onions have softened a bit, about 5 minutes. Place in a large bowl to cool.

Make the rice:

Heat water to a boil, add rice, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 30 minutes. Remove rice from heat.  Add evaporated  milk to rice, cover, and allow evaporated milk to absorb into rice (this will take about 15 minutes); cool slightly.

Place all filling ingredients into the bowl with the sauteed onion/garlic mixture. Mix well.

Place about 1/4 of filling into the center of each of the cabbage leaves, folding up to enclose (see step by step photos below).

Ladle about 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Place golumpki seam side down into prepared pan. Pour remaining sauce over golumpki, cover, and cook over medium heat until sauce begins to come to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook 3 hours. (May be made 1 day ahead and reheated)

Makes approximately 12 cabbage rolls

Begin by coaring the cabbage and cooking in boiling water until the leaves soften and are easy to seperate.

Mix together the filling ingredients.

Spoon filling into center of cabbage leaf.

1st fold

2nd fold

3rd fold

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31 comments to Golumpki (Polish Stuffed Cabbage) Recipe

  • I was the Chef in a polish restaurant for 2 years. I know these flavors. We use to make soup with the leftover cabbage rolls.
    When people think Kielbasa they always think smoked. I love the fresh kielbasa!
    .-= Ed Schenk´s last blog ..Meatless Fridays #1– Vegetarian Chili =-.

  • I’m not familiar with Polish cooking, but I am intrigued with the combination of flavors in this dish. I’m imagining how wonderful the meat stuffing and softened cabbage would taste together. This looks marvelous!
    .-= Christine @ Fresh Local and Best´s last blog ..How to Make Crêpes =-.

  • I know next to nothing about Polish cooking but my grandmother used to make braised meat stuffed cabbage rolls in a clear but very flavourful broth. Love the vibrant colour of this dish and your photos are gorgeous!
    .-= denise @ quickies on the dinner table´s last blog ..just pointing in the general direction =-.

  • I made stuffed cabbage this weekend, too! Interesting to see how you fold your cabbage leaves — we do ours differently, so the end result is square instead of rectangular. I wish I’d thought to photograph that process like you did.
    .-= Beatrice´s last blog ..Spicy Cauliflower Pasta Bake =-.

  • I’ve done veggie versions of this but not for quite some time – your photos are so appealing that it definitely makes me want to do it again! Will you be sharing the pierogi recipe as well, I hope?
    .-= Tasty Trix´s last blog ..My Gnocchi Came Naked to the Party: Nude Gnocchi a la Al Di La Trattoria =-.

  • These look wonderful…something I think my family will enjoy. I do make a steam version with minced pork.
    .-= Roti n Rice´s last blog ..Salmon Curry =-.

  • I love the fresh kielbasa as well, but just adore Polish Food thanks for posting- A great menu. I have bookmarked your site for future reference and will return often for inspiration.

  • The stuffed cabbage sounds awesome! My grandma used to make it too :)
    .-= 5 Star Foodie´s last blog ..International Gnocchi Party: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Nori Butter =-.

  • stella

    I very often make stuffed cabbage but the rice, the onion and the garlic which are mixed with the minced meat are uncooked.
    Your recipe is different but it seems very-very interesting and I plan to try it as soon as possible. I’ m sure my family will like it.

  • Ed,
    I would love to see some of your Polish recipes from the restaurant where you were chef!

  • I have always wanted to try this dish–just tasty!!

    sweetlife
    .-= sweetlife´s last blog ..She’s Killing Me!! =-.

  • I love these, make them Italian style no onions lots of garlic and fresh tomatoes. Yours look so fresh and the pictures are making me want to make them tomorrow. Love this dish, and I always use ground Turkey, even make my sausage with ground turkey love it! Very delcious healthy post and great recipe!
    .-= pegasuslegend´s last blog ..Filet Mignon Topped with Portabello,Shrimp,Crab with Creamy Italian Garlic Wine Sauce =-.

  • Lovely — my mom used to make a dish like this when I was growing up. She liked easy, fast things that she could cook in the slow cooker, and this was always a welcome treat on a cold winter’s night. I may have to take a walk down memory lane and cook this up!
    .-= wasabi prime´s last blog ..FoodTrek: Cult of the Crustacean Nation =-.

  • magda

    yumm, i love these!!
    my mom makes this version, and also a “vegetarian” one!
    she uses soy cutlets (dry soy cutlets soaked in some water or chicken stock and then really, really finely chopped) and lots of mushrooms and onion in the vegetarian ones and serves those with mushroom sauce.
    the best way to make golabki is to bake them in the oven… they taste completely different than the ones cooked on a stove top.

  • Magda~ Your vegetarian version sounds delicious. So many variations.
    Thanks for reading everyone–love to hear from you!

  • I didn’t you you had Polish origins, I love grandma recipes, they’re always the best. Thanks for trying out the salmon, I wanted to write back but had some problems on that site.
    .-= citronetvanille´s last blog ..Seafood obsession part III – Spicy mussels and clams with leeks, beer, chili and herbs =-.

  • Hi! That’s really nice you celebrate your childhood memories and same your ancestry. My memories with Gołąbki are not the very best ones – that was the least favourite food of mine ;)

  • szmollka

    Debbie, these are beautiful! I’m Polish, I have a lot of memories from my grandma’s kitchen – kopytka (kind of Polish gnocci), placki ziemniaczane (slightly different from latkes potato pancakes, great with hungarian letcho), different kind of pierogi (wild mushroom &sauerkraut were the best, but also with meat and vegetables, potato and cottage cheese, with buckwheat, cottage cheese and mint and many others), wonderful kinda rustic soups – barszcz, zurek and sauergurken one, great cakes (poppy seed roll, cheesecake, apple pie), mirabelle plum jam – lots of great aromas and tastes.
    Golabki are great also with porcini sauce (another traditional Polish taste). They taste great with buckwheat instead of rice (especially with roasted buckwheat). And instead of cooking the whole cabbage you can cook it in a microwave – it’s much easier and less messy.

  • The hard part about galumpki’s is scalding the cabbage leaves. Its a long process but in the end it is so worth it. I grew up on these as my Mom is Polish. Hers would be about the same size as a regular Chinese egg roll. When I went to visit Poland my friends cousin made hers the size of fat cigars. I really liked them because they had a bit mroe of the cabbage.

    You took a really nice picture of them. I made them before but just couldnt find a nice shot to post about.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Soba Noodle with chopped veggies =-.

  • Haven’t been to your site in awhile and catching up on all your posts! Love this one especially – it’s actually on my to-make list, so will use yours as a reference when I make it! Thanks :)
    .-= Shelly @ Experimental Culinary Pursuits´s last blog ..Sophisticated Simplicity: Spinach Artichoke Party Squares =-.

  • I loved stuffed cabbage in any form – this looks so good! My favorite Polish memories are of one of my childhood friends and visiting the Polish neighborhoods in NYC. Kielbasa is my favorite sausage, perhaps!

    BTW, I hope you don’t mind, but I have given you an award. I just love your blog and your food! You can read what I wrote about you and my other favorite food bloggers here:

    http://kitchen-worthy.com/walking-on-sunshine
    .-= Liren´s last blog ..Walking on Sunshine =-.

  • marge brennan

    My Polish Ukrainian Mother In Law Golumpki Stufed Cabbage Recipe
    1 lb of ground meat (beef turkey pork)
    1 head of cabbage slightly cooked (8 leaves)
    1 cup of cooked (cool downed) rice
    1 can of tomato soup
    1 can of drained stewed tomato
    1 tbsp of brown sugar
    1 onion minced
    1 egg beaten
    4 slices of bread
    ¼ cup of milk

    Soak bread in milk and egg then add and mix to ground meat. Saute onions cool then add to ground meat along with cooked rice. Roll meat and rice in cooked cabbage leaves. Place stuffed rolled cabbage leaves in casserole dish. Add mixture of tomato soup and drained stewed tomatoes with brown sugar. Place casserole dish in 350° degree oven. Cook 40 minutes . Enjoy

  • Sharon

    I grew up with stuffed cabbage at almost every family gathering. Pierogi, fresh and smoke kielbaska. I grew up in a very ethnic part of Cleveland where polish foods were readily available. I’ve moved to Virginia where there is nothing available which makes me look forward to going home for visits. I’m making stuffed cabbage right now. I use tomato soup as the sauce and add a little saurkraut. Pork and beef mixture.

  • tom s

    I too am polish and my grandmother made all of these dishes every holiday, I don’t know how she did it. She taught my Mother and my mother has taught me. The one key thing is we line the pan with cabbage then place the finished rolls place pats of butter over them and cover with more cabbage.
    This keeps them moist and gives you a lot of extra tasty cabbage to eat. I bought the ingredients for turkey version last week also got some veal to try that. We always used the tomato soup gravy which I love. The rolls can also be held in place with a toothpick if people want.

  • Sylvia Hanlon

    I enjoyed reading these comments on a recipe which I do not think I will use. I grew up with all things Polish. My grandmother lived up the street from us and I spent many hours with her in her kitchen learning how to cook. Her golabki were the star of the table on Sundays at noon along with mashed potatoes, rye bread and butter and a green salad. I can not bring myself to make them with turkey… nor could I make pierogi from whole wheat flour and filled with potatoes and cheddar cheese like you see in supermarkets these days! I guess I had it so good as a third generation Pole that I am a snobbish purist when it comes to authenticity. I do, however, sometimes change the configuration of the cabbage “rolls” to that of a Polish lasagna. I use the traditional meats, rice, flavorings and sauce but instead of rolling each one individually, I slice the cabbage head into 1/2 inch pieces and layer them with the meat mixture and tomato sauce and bake it covered… same fabulous flavors, less time on task!

  • Lillian(Kujawski) Hack

    I, too, am Polish, first generation in this country born in 1935. I remember very vividly my Mom making the stuffed cabbage rolls and baking them with canned tomatoes in a big roasting pan. She then creamed the tomato mixture with half and half and flour into a gravy topping to serve. My mouth waters as I write this! My parents were both gourmet cooks and bakers; we also had restaurants and bakeries in an about Chicago in my youth so I was raised on real authentic Polish cooking etc.
    My parents came to this country around 1908 so the food they made was authentic and not compromised in any way. Yes, I was raised in a Polish, Jewish and Italian neighborhood in Chicago and we all got along just fine.
    Too bad people can’t do the same today!My parents taught me to love America and to be proud to live in this great country. Yes, it isn’t perfect, but what nation is? It is up to all of us to keep it strong!

  • Karl Sedlock

    My fraternal grandparents came to the USA from Austria Hungary in 1904. Therefore my family enjoyed alot of old world recipes. We loved Golumpki’s. I have not heard of this side dish too much. Not sure of spelling–here goes—-haluski—chop thinly cabbage & onions, saute in frying pan in oil—boil store egg noodles–or make your own–their better, drain & combine with cabbage & onions—very important–alot of pepper. try this, very tasty!!!!!

  • My recipe has been handed down four generations and they are known in our home as monkeys as when I was little I could not pronounce golumpki properly so since then they have been monkeys! My kids loved telling their southern friends (who never heard of stuffed cabbage rolls) that we were having monkeys for dinner and to see the look on their faces…Priceless

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