For Pulaski Day: The perfect cabbage roll
A Pulaski Day-inspired cabbage roll which would pair well with pickled beets, a cucumber salad and rye bread. | Photo by Melissa Elsmo
Casimir’s Cabbage Rolls
Serve these cozy cabbage rolls with pickled beets, cucumber salad and some sliced rye bread.
1 28-ounce can of tomato puree
½ cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
6-8 large cabbage leaves
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup minced sweet onion
½ cup minced celery
Salt and pepper
¾ cup smoked kielbasa, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound meatloaf mix (ground pork and beef)
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1 teaspoon paprika
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and keep at a simmer. Stir the sauce occasionally while preparing the cabbage rolls.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the butter and the olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add the onion and celery and season with salt and pepper. Sweat the vegetables until they are tender and translucent (about 8 minutes). Add the kielbasa and garlic and cook for about four minutes. Remove the sausage mixture from heat and set aside.
Combine the meatloaf mix, cooked rice and sausage mixture in a large bowl. Add the sour cream, chives, paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper and mix well. Set the filling mixture aside.
Blanch the cabbage leaves in the boiling water until tender and pliable (about 5 minutes). Remove the cabbage leaves with tongs to an ice bath. Add the scallions to the boiling water and blanch until tender and limp (about 2 minutes). Remove scallions to ice bath.
To make the cabbage rolls, lay the cabbage leaves on a work surface and cut out the thick center rib to split the leaves in two. Shape ¼ cup of the filling mixture into a log and place on a cabbage leaf half. Fold in the sides and roll up to encapsulate the filling. Tie each cabbage roll with a blanched scallion. Repeat until all cabbage leaves are used up; you’ll have between 12 and 16 rolls depending on the size of the cabbage leaves.
Discard the bay leaf and ladle 3/4 of the
tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Arrange the cabbage rolls seam
side down on top of the sauce and pour the remaining 1/4 of the tomato sauce over the rolls. Cover with foil and put in the oven for 45 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to cook for 20 minutes or until filling is cooked through. Serve the rolls topped with the sauce and garnish with chives if desired.
Updated: March 1, 2013 10:34AM
The Chicago suburban landscape is filled with Polish cultural influences.
In fact, residents of Polish descent make up the largest European-American population in the Chicago metropolitan area and Illinois boasts one of the largest Polish populations in the United States. Celebrating Casimir Pulaski Day is a natural nod to the contributions of Polish people who’ve enriched countless communities throughout Illinois.
Celebrated on the first Monday in March, Pulaski Day honors the birthdate of the Polish soldier who is remembered for his display of military and organizational prowess that helped the United States gain independence from the British. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed a resolution granting Casimir Pulaski honorary United States citizenship 230 years after his death.
A state holiday, Casimir Pulaski Day tends to sneak up on folks in Illinois, but the lucky ones who get the day off aren’t going to balk at the gift of a three-day weekend. A little extra time around the house often makes time for a little kitchen creativity. I can’t think of a better way to give a nod to Casimir Pulaski and Chicago’s rich Polish influences than by serving up a feast with Eastern European flair.
Vibrant ruby hued borscht, crispy breaded pork cutlets, and soft pillowy perogi are just a few of the rich and complex dishes synonymous with Polish cuisine. Sauerkraut, pickled beets and creamy cucumbers round out any Polish-themed menu, but nothing is as authentically cozy as batch of Polish-inspired cabbage rolls.
Proper cabbage rolls feature an old-world assortment of meats and a gentle blend of aromatics and spices. The savory mixture is cuddled up in tender cabbage blankets before being bathed in tomato sauce and braised to tender perfection in the oven. They are a touch time-consuming to prepare, but it’s worth it to create a memorable family dinner in honor of Illinois’ favorite Polish hero, Casimir Pulaski.