Most kids return home from a day at school ravenous for something to hold them over until dinner time. Unlike my friends, offerings of Goldfish, potato chips or Lunchables were not considered snacks, but special occasion treats and were rarely available. One of my favorite after school snacks growing up were Galumpki, Polish Stuffed Cabbage rolls, that my wonderful Irish aunt would make in bulk and freeze so that we always had some ready to prepare. Little did I know at the time that this was not the standard snack of choice for most kids. You guys were really missing out!
I can still remember the buttery flavor of the cabbage and the pleasant crisp texture, the familiar heartiness of the rice and meat filling and each delicious bite dipped into a puddle of ketchup. Which is the only acceptable way these should be consumed, might I add.
Food is my favorite way of keeping alive traditions and culture, and it’s nice to be able to share a recipe that stems from my lesser known Polish heritage.
- 1 large head green cabbage
- 6 cups prepared rice, cooked in chicken broth
- 1/2 large onion, minced
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 8 oz container white mushrooms, diced
- 3 Tbsp. Butter, divided
- 1 Tsp. low sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg
- Canola Spray
- Prepare rice according to package directions, substituting chicken broth for water. Add in any seasonings, if desired, and 1 Tablespoon of the butter.
- Remove the core from the bottom of the cabbage and any dirty or damaged leaves. Steam the cabbage head, carefully removing the leaves as they become tender and pliable. Place the leaves on paper towels to cool and remove any excess moisture. When you reach the center of the cabbage, where the leaves are no longer able to be peeled and too small to fill, julienne the remainder and set aside.
- In a deep skillet, melt remaining 2 Tablespoons butter before adding in the julienned cabbage. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of water to help steam the cabbage as it cooks down. Cook the cabbage until it is tender and slightly browned, it will start to caramelize, adding water as needed to keep from drying out or burning. When ready, remove cabbage and chop finely with a food processor before setting aside.
- Using the same skillet, saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil until they are tender, before adding in the ground turkey. Cook the ground turkey until no longer pink. Add in soy sauce and Worcestershire and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Incorporate the caramelized cabbage into the mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Combine the meat and vegetable mixture with the prepared rice to create your stuffing. Add 1 egg to act as a binder, folding in so that everything is evenly incorporated.
- On a flat surface, take your first steamed cabbage leaf, placing it so the stem curves downward like an upside-down letter C, use a pairing knife to shave off the thick base of the rib so that it no longer curves but is flat to the leaf. This will make the leaves easier to roll. Once you have shaved the stem, flip the leaf over and fill with stuffing. For smaller leaves, use approximately 2 Tablespoons of filling for very large leaves, use up to 4 Tablespoons Fill the center of the leaves, flatting the rice mixture down with the back of a spoon.
- To roll, slightly fold the bottom flap where the stem is, fold over the left and right sides of the leaves, tucking the sides and filling as you roll. (Think of it like rolling a burrito or eggroll) As you reach the end of the leaf, your filling should be neatly wrapped, allowing the end of the cabbage leaf to overhang and create a bottom seam and keep anything from falling out.
- Carefully place the filled cabbage rolls in a baking dish. Spray with canola spray and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned. Alternately, you can brown in butter in a skillet.
When preparing the rice for the stuffing, I usually add in two teaspoons of an all purpose seasoning mix to the chicken broth to add flavor.
Many recipes serve the Galumpki’s in a tangy tomato sauce, but we have always eaten them browned in butter with ketchup for dipping.
My great aunt Winnie who came from Galway, Ireland learned this recipe from her in-laws so she could prepare it for her beloved Polish husband. She made cabbage rolls way into her eighties, arthritis and all!