Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make Savory Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Pork and Veal

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage rolls use up a whole cabbage in the most delicious way! Filled with a spiced pork and veal stuffing these gorgeous little parcels are a bit of a labour of love but are so worth it!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

You can find cabbage roll recipes across so many different cultures and countries from Eastern and Central Europe to Asia and South America. I particularly like the name for these in Polish (Gołąbki) and Russian (Голубцы [Golubtsy) which means "little pigeon". For these cabbage rolls I use a savoy cabbage but of course you can use any type of cabbage. Chinese cabbage or wombok also works as does regular and red cabbage.

The best way to make sure that your cabbage leaves come off whole is by coring the cabbage and then simmering it in water for 5 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes or until easy to handle. The leaves come off easily and in one piece.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Always taste your mince mixture before using it. Cooked of course! ;) I always try a little bit of the mince mixture to test it for seasoning and flavour. Especially with a dish like this that takes so much time. The last thing you want is a bland cabbage parcel!

Cabbage Roll filling variations: You can also swap out the pork and veal mince for chicken mince or beef mince. If you want to make these vegetarian you can use lentils, bulghur wheat, parmesan cheese and diced vegetables to replace the mince. Just make sure to season them well and try the mix before you stuff it to make sure that it is well seasoned and flavoursome. Also make sure that the vegetable mix isn't too wet as some vegetables release water when cooked (eg mushrooms).

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

My little secret for making the best cabbage rolls: most recipes call for the cabbage rolls to be baked in the oven. They bake for around an hour or so but I found that the best result came from cooking them on the stovetop! It also only takes around 20 minutes too. The cabbage has a better texture to it and is less tough. Also the darker outer leaves can be slightly less tender than the inner leaves.

Don't have time or don't have a whole cabbage? Try these easy deconstructed cabbage rolls that require just 10 minutes prep!

Other cabbage recipes: The Fabulous Buzo Cabbage, Pine Nut, Raisin & Pecorino Salad, Totally Not Boring Red Cabbage, Chickpea & Dill Salad, a Hearty Vegan Red Lentil & Red Cabbage Stew, Winter Roasted Vegetable Salad or try your hand at this quick kim chi!

I know it's an odd thing to say but I consider myself a bit of cabbage, cauliflower and potato doctor. As in I do quite well cooking these vegetables and really enjoy eating them too.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Recently Queen Viv came over for dinner and said, "I'm very impressed, your plants are still alive!". She was referring to my three orchids. Apart from the rampant aloe vera on the balcony, they are the only real, live plants that I have. The rest I have given away to better homes and replaced them with faux plants which give me much visual joy (I'm a bit shortsighted too so it all looks real to me). These faux plants require no upkeep apart from a bit of dusting. More importantly, I also don't experience soul crushing disappointment when they inevitably die.

Queen Viv then set about plant doctoring them, trimming stalks (who knew?) and feeling the soil for wetness. She prescribed a treatment plan for one orchid which was actually too dry. Usually orchids suffer an over watering problem but with this one we had under watered it too much and it was dry as a bone and the leaves were starting to shrivel.

I took a picture of her tending to my survivalist plants (survivor: plant edition?) and I got so many people on Instagram stories asking me for plant advice. This is a role I'm entirely uncomfortable with given my plant homicide rate. Some people suggested that Queen Viv start a zoom business where people could show her their plants and she could diagnose and prescribe a treatment plan for them. Like a doctor but for plants! Who knows, in 2020 it could work!?

So tell me Dear Reader, are you good with plants? Do you need a plant doctor? And what is your field of expertise ie what could you be a doctor for?

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 90 minutes

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Serves: 8 people (2 rolls each)

For Mince filling:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 500g/1.1lbs pork and veal mince
  • 4 tablespoons Chinese char siu sauce
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (I used parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

  • 1 savoy cabbage (mine was 950g/2lbs)

  • 3 tablespoons oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 800ml/24flozs diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chilli oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Parsley and parmesan for serving

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Step 1 - First core the cabbage with a sharp knife - the core is a small cone (see pic). Then submerge the cabbage in a pot of simmering water for 5 minutes and gently lift out with tongs and allow to drain and cool.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Step 2 - Meanwhile mix all of the mince filling ingredients together and test for seasoning by frying some. Shape into large balls (I used a large ice cream scoop) and refrigerate until you need the filling (at least around 20 minutes).

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Step 3 - Add the oil to a large saucepan or pot and sauté the onions until soft. Add the garlic and fry for a minute. Then add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chilli oil, sugar and seasoning.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Step 4 - Start filling the cabbage rolls. Peel one leaf off and cut out the thick rib. Place a ball of the mince filling in the leaf and then roll up. Place in the pot of sauce and repeat with the rest of the cabbage leaves and filling. Place the pot on medium heat and place the lid on and steam the cabbage rolls for 20 minutes or until cooked in the centre. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and grated parmesan.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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