If you’ve ever been to any traditional Balkan events, its likely that this meal has been served. And everyone has their own regional touch to add. Some people add bay leaves, some use all beef, some use lamb, some roll and some layer like a lasagna. Regardless of how you do it, it’s an incredibly versatile and wholesome dish, best eaten during winter time. The use of full sized pickled cabbage leaves means you get your good micro biome additions and you eat a hearty meal.
We don’t need to waffle on about this – it’s a really fantastic recipe and food, freezes well, and is something you’ll always make when you see how tasty it is.
Without further ado…
- Speck (double smoked): is preferred, but single smoked will be fine if that’s all you can get. You can also use smoked soup bones or ham hock. Omit salt if using these.
- Full cabbage pickled: You need the full leaves to make rolls. If you cannot find this, then thick sliced sauerkraut (green) is perfectly fine.
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup rice
- 1kg mince. I alternate use between pork, veal and beef.
- Herbs and spices: 1tbsp vegeta, 1 tbsp paprika (hungarian; smoked), 1tsp salt (omit if using a salty smoked meat), 1 tsp pepper
SarmaCourse: DinnerDifficulty: Medium
A traditional Balkan dish of minced meat, rice, smoked hock or bacon, and sauerkraut leaves cooked low and slow for a couple of hours and served with fresh crusty bread. A winter heart warmer
Speck (double smoked): is preferred, but single smoked will be fine if that’s all you can get. You can also use smoked soup bones or ham hock. Omit salt if using these.
Full cabbage pickled: You need the full leaves to make rolls. If you cannot find this, then thick sliced sauerkraut (green) is perfectly fine.
1 onion, diced
1 cup rice (uncooked)
1kg mince. I alternate use between pork, veal and beef.
Herbs and spices: 1tbsp vegeta, 1 tbsp paprika (hungarian; smoked), 1tsp salt (omit if using a salty smoked meat), 1 tsp pepper
- Sauté onions on medium until translucent. I did mine in my Phillips Multicooker (which has a high sear option and pressure cook option)
- Add mince, cooking until brown.
- When mince is browned, add rice. I say one cup above, but you really need to make sure its an equal mix when looking visually at your meat. If you need to add a bit more so it looks evenly split, do so. My image in the gallery is how it should look.
- Add herbs and spices and mix well. Let the mixture cool
- While waiting for mixture to cool, slice speck into thick slices.
- When mixture has cooled, prepare your workspace for rolling. Make sure your leaves have already been spread open and your cooking vessel is nearby.
- Place a small or ripped leave at the bottom of the cooking vessel.
- Start filling your leaves. Using an eating spoon, heap one serving onto a big leaf. If your leaves are smaller, use half that. Fill towards the back. The spine should be nearest to your body and that’s where you will commence the roll from.
- Once you add the meat, pack tightly into a ball or rectangle shape and half roll the cabbage over. Tuck in each side, and slowly roll over to the end until you have a parcel. Gently place this into your cooking vessel.
- Keep doing this process until your rolls make one layer. Slot pieces of bacon in between.
- Repeat until you use all the mince. You may have some cabbage leaves left over and if so, its up to you whether you freeze them or put them in the fridge to eat later. Note, if you do chose to eat them later, its best to return it back into some of the pickling water it was in so it doesn’t spoil as fast.
- Pour water until it covers the cabbage rolls. Using a smaller plate, place over the top to apply pressure to the rolls and then seal.
- I used my pressure cooker, so this was set to 1 hour pressure. I also let it release on its own. If doing on the stove, cook for 1-2 hours or when the stem of the rolls are as soft as the top of the leaf.
- Serve hot, with fefferoni and fresh crusty bread!
- You can also add bacon bits to the mince mixture for extra flavour!